This is a special blog from me and Mum to say a big thank you to Urban Fitness GB who are going a little bit out of their way for charity. These guys are going to do an 87 mile run from London to Dover, swim the English Channel and finish off with a 181 bike ride to Paris and they're going to try and break the world record for doing it. Awesome, as young folk say these days, totally awesome. They are raising money for Alzheimers UK and the The Firefighters Charity.
I want to say thank you because what they are doing makes a difference to people's lives and I want them and you to know why I personally want to support what they're doing and why it matters. It's all about me and my Mum. There's Mum in the photo - we're feeding the hens at Knowes Farm Shop. Mum has Alzheimer's and is just amazing in how she copes with it. Visiting the chickens is a happy time for us, it takes Mum back to her childhood - remembers all you ever need to know about raising hens.
But Alzheimer's is much more than just a failing memory. It is a cruel and horrible disease and if I ever needed a reminder, I got one last night. I went round to Mum's yesterday after work and found her in tears outside her house, wandering in different directions, totally distracted and very distressed. She was looking for Dad. Dad died just over two years ago and up until recently Mum knew that all the time, now she only knows it most of the time, yesterday she'd forgotten. When she forgets, Mum hears Dad's voice calling her, hears him in the house, sees him out of the corner of her eye. Mum searches, but she can't find him, so she searches inside, outside, in cupboards, under the bed, desperate to find him, unable to understand why he's not there. Dad was there for 52 years, she remembers that, for now.
I walked her gently inside and we sat down. I stroked Mum's hand and spoke very calmly and soothingly, touch and tone communicate so much. We talked through what happened and what she did and how the problem with her memory means that sometimes she forgets even very important things. Mum says it's because she's still in shock at him going, that if it wasn't for her family she couldn't go on, and we leave it at that. Just how much reality can one person take at once.
We start to talk about happy times, and Dad bless him comes to our aid. We laugh at stories about Dad and his DIY (dire!), his love of cricket, his sense of humour and those family camping holidays (never again). Gradually things get back to what counts for normal these days and Mum smiles again, enjoying being able to remember things for now. I head home in tears. Thankful that for now Mum is okay and just has normal grief to live with.
It breaks my heart that Mum has a disease that does this to her, that tortures her like this. Each time she goes through it it's like Dad dies again for her and she is bereft. My dear Grandad had Alzheimer's too and the irony of ironies is that Grandad, like Mum, also forgot that his wife, my Granny had died and wept afresh when he was told. In the end his children had to say she was in hospital, no one could bear going through it any more, soon I will have to do that too. Dad went through all this himself with his own father, he'd be heart broken that his dear wife was going through it, but happy that I was there as he was for his Dad. What makes me sadder and even madder is that Mum's not alone. What scares the life out of me is how many millions more like Mum and Grandad there will be in the future unless we stop this disease somehow. It is not a natural part of aging, it's not a bit of a memory problem, it is not normal, it is a horrible disease that destroys lives, removes dignity and is very, very cruel.
I want this awful disease stopped and I want everyone like Mum to be helped. I can't tell you how scary it is for her to go through all this and how brave she is every single moment of her waking hours. Alzheimer's Scotland and Alzheimer's UK have helped me and Mum cope in so many ways and fight for the rights and dignity of everyone with Alzheimer's, their families and friends. Mum and me can't do this alone and I am glad we've got them fighting for us. We're going to need them more than ever in future.
So that's why I want to say thank you to these amazing guys and every one who does something special to raise money for Alzheimer's charities. Mum and millions like her are what it's all about, that's why what they are doing matters. Their amazing feat will make a difference to real people like Mum. You can help too, please sponsor these guys Urban Fitness GB Arch 2 Arc Challenge
Guys, when your legs ache and you hit the wall, I hope you'll think of Mum and all the millions of others with Alzheimers and know that they're worth it and that we thank you for what you're doing for us. Mum says that it helps to know that there are people out there who care enough to help. It's not just about the money, it's that you care. Thank you.
Sue and Sue's Mum