Monday, October 10, 2011

Alzheimer Awareness Walk

I knew a man once with a smile that would warm your heart, a sense of integrity that seems to be a hard to find in todays' world, and a love for his family that exceeded all else.  He grew up the oldest of seven children, always the protector and provider he later became a father-figure to some of his younger siblings.  He went on to have a family of his own, a distinguished career as a sports editor for the Nashville Banner and grandchildren who adored him.  He had a moral compass second to none and a reason for everything he did.  He taught me the value of hard work, the importance of doing the right thing, the necessity of integrity and morality, the fact that ones word is all they have and don't waste it on the wrong ones, and the most important lesson, family is everything.  This man was my grandfather, Pa.  It wasn't until after he died that I truly got to know the great man he was to so many.  As he got older and his dementia turned into Alzheimer's I saw the terrible tragedy that is this horrible disease.  My grandmother said that perhaps he simply had used up all of his words when he was writing, but slowly he remembered fewer and fewer of us until it came to the point when he only recognized my grandmother.  We lost Pa in July of 2008.  A devoted husband, a stern yet loving father, a gentle grandfather and dear friend to so many, he truly was a giant among men.  

Recently my sister-in-law Maggie heard from her friend, Steve Bianchi, about a walk in Centennial Park to raise money for a world without Alzheimer's and awareness of this devastating disease.  immediately Allen, Maggie and I jumped at the opportunity to do anything we could for a cause so dear to our hearts.  It was a fantastic fall morning and a crowd that brought me tears.  Each participant had a sign on their back with a name of a person for whom they were walking.  It was a beautiful testament to love which trancends even death.  People are never forgotten if love is present.  Everything my grandfather taught me I still hold close to my heart.  Here is a glimpse into the life of an extraordinary man.

Gramma and Pa on their 50th wedding anniversary
Here are some pictures from our day at the park!
Gramma organized some of her friends at Homewood to walk with her in memory of her beloved husband, Edgar Allen.
Emory loves to get to see his great-grandmother!

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