“Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.” –Ecclesiastes 8:5
Do desperate times call for desperate actions? We have all heard some variation of this statement, but just how much is true here? And, what can we learn here about dementia? Let’s see:
Remember yesterday I mentioned that my kiddos were cleaning the garage yesterday and grabbed some compelling pictures from the rubblesque box array? Well, they also pulled this gem:
Pictured is Gilbert Applegate, born February 26, 1845 and died 80 years later December 26th, 1925. Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Applegate, Gil, as he was generally known, split his time between Douglas County Missouri and a host of other places, as many did in those hard times. Douglas County, called slanderously “Booger County” by many in the Ozarks, is home to absolute beauty and absolute poverty, even to this day. In Gil’s day, Douglas and neighboring counties, all at the edge of an enormous forest, were mainly propped up by the railroad/railroad tie industry. There were lots of saloons, brothels, and other means of blowing money…and crime bloomed there like an Ozark’s Dogwood in this fertile soil. Civil war guns were still everywhere as well, so this mix of wild living and guns spelled lawlessness quite quickly. This greatly increasing crime partnered with either ineffective or corrupt or absent law enforcement made for desperate times for the folks there. Crimes ranging from cattle theft to murder were commonplace and nobody was there to protect the citizens. There was no YouTube to chronicle these events and nobody powerful enough to fix the problem… until the Baldknobbers (citizen’s committee) were formed by frustrated citizens to address this mess. They quickly became known by their head covering (see this picture from the Shepherd of the Hills movie):
Gil’s homestead, in the above picture, features the family farm animals prominently…and I want you to squint and/or blow up the picture and check out the front door. Gil and his bride Cathern (Catherine), like I suspect most at the time fortunate enough to have a home, had a gate on the front door to keep the kids in and the animals out. Don’t you worry about them running up an electric bill as they certainly had no utilities of any kind. Times were desperate. Gil had outlived the Civil War, plagues, and, later, the noose, and the mileage showed. Matthew James Hernando wrote the following in his LSU doctoral thesis titled The Bald Knobbers of Southwest Missouri, 1885-1889: A Study of Vigilante Justice in the Ozarks. ” “The Applegate family moved around frequently. They lived in Greene County in 1850, but by 1860 they had relocated to Taney County. Applegate fought for the Union during the Civil War, serving in the 16th Missouri Cavalry, and also earned a reputation as a pro-Union bushwhacker. He reportedly murdered a Confederate prisoner named Fulbright, even though local Union militia already had him in custody. Applegate waited near a road for the militia troops transporting the captive to pass, and then fired two shots, the second piercing his victim’s skull. In the 1880’s, Gilbert Applegate actually lived in Douglas County, but as a Bald Knobber he participated with Bald Knobbers in Christian County in several vigilante actions across the county line.”
I have mentioned the Baldknobbers in past articles here and here. Great, great grandpa Gil and at least one or two other Applegates were prominent Baldknobbers in the area. Gil was later tried for murder, committed as a member of this group, but was ultimately freed with a fine. In the end, the governor, desperately attempting to reign in the Baldknobbers (who had devolved into lawless folks by then), sent in the militia to break them up. They disbanded peacefully, but their legend lives to this day as a symbol of desperate times calling for desperate actions….
With dementia, it is super easy to reach a point of desperation as well. In my case, my wonderful mom has been slowly and/or quickly (depending on the day) transformed by a brain outlaw called dementia into where she is now: happy, but with next to no memory nor available ability to communicate. Her ability to function weakens every day and ultimately she will lose this battle. Her hospice nurse isn’t even optimistic. So, what do we do with this point of desperation? Do we circle the legislature on horseback and torches and demand funding for research?
Nope…I have something even better.
If a measly one out of every three folks who have a family member or loved one with dementia did something…anything…there would be millions and millions fighting to #EndALZ and the impact would be amazing! What can you do, fellow vigilant one? Here are just a few ways:
- Walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event coming in September. Join my team if you don’t have one. Instead of mass events, this year we will each do our own events and there will be a streaming event to gather us together to celebrate, in advance, the cure.
- Donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, perhaps through my walk team or through the Alz.org website.
- Find a volunteer opportunity, whether with a friend or family member or elsewhere to help these folks. Need help being placed? Contact your local Area Agency on Aging. We always need volunteers. Donate to SeniorAge…we do amazing things including providing millions of meals for seniors, a good hunk of whom have dementia. Planned giving? We can help. 🙂 Every little bit helps.
- Join AIM. AIM, The Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, is the advocacy wing of the Alzheimer’s Association. They lovingly advocate for increased funding and recognition of the illness and do amazing work.
- Know someone famous? See if they would leverage their fame to raise funds/awareness for this disease.
- Join a clinical trial through Trial Match. This service will help match you to a medical (or other) or scientific program that will advance the cause through these means. Much of what they offer is clinical, but there are plenty of opportunities through this program to help in less invasive ways.
- Keep up with and share the news. The Alzheimer’s Association has a nifty research and news app for your smartphone as well.
- Pray for those with the disease and their caregivers. Love on these heroes.
- Something else…anything. Millions of little things will equal a huge thing!
None of us are strong enough by ourselves to do all of these, but if we all do something…all millions of us…the disease would quake in its boots and leave town. The Baldknobbers, for all of their good they did at formation, either lost interest and gave up or worse, turned the wrong way and gave in to the messed up community. We cannot do the same.
I had a great visit with mom today. She struggles and she doesn’t say much…and what she does try to say obviously frustrates her…BUT, she is nevertheless still happy and wonderful to be near (with a mask, 6 feet away). Stinkin’ disease!
Dad joke of the day:
“You know, people say they pick their nose, but I feel like I was just born with mine.”
Last little note: The Baldknobbers are a fascinating group. Amazing good they did here and there in fighting crime and ensuring justice…and amazingly bad in their methods, especially toward their end. I would love to sugarcoat the atrocities they did in the name of the greater good, but I can’t. Such is history. I can’t fix the bad, but I can at the least celebrate the good… Also note: They have nothing to do with the KKK. The outfit was ominous like the Klan, but their cause was, at least at first, with merit while the Klan was always wrong and sinful from their onset. Don’t mix the two…
Quite a band of men.
Here is another amazing book on the topic: