Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spotlight: Carol Holmes

Carol Holmes with her Mother

Meet my Mother, Eleanor Ann Holmes who at 86 and with Alzheimer’s was happily making a snow angel in Boise, Idaho with me. I am running my first Marathon to honor her, and besides raising funds to find a cure to end Alzheimer’s it is my mission to raise awareness to the human rights a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s should continue receiving. When Mom was 84, signs of Alzheimer’s became apparent and on Nov. 17th 2010, I am so fortunate and grateful she will be turning 89 years old. My Mother with her Alzheimer’s today, is still a HUMAN with needs and desires that should not be ignored or abused.

My mother was a Navy Nurse stationed in Japan when she meet and became engaged to my father a Navy Doctor. In those days, she was forced to abandon her navy career and eventually was a full time Mom to eight children. She was the greatest Mother ever!!! She moved our large family across country many times as my father’s duties changed. She raised her eight children, always sacrificing of herself to all of our needs.

My childhood was blessedly great because of my Mothers dedication to us. We all were exposed to sports, education, culture and love because of her. Everyday began and ended with a home cooked family meal. She was the ROCK that held our large family together thru all our family’s trials and tribulations.

I was living in New York City and my parents had retired and were living alone in San Diego. My Mother and I have always had an incredible relationship and it was common for us to speak a few times in a day, everyday of every year. Our Mother and Daughter bond was unbreakable. About 4 years ago I began receiving late night calls from my Mother. She was confused, frustrated and calling herself a “dumb dumb.” Dad was asleep and had no idea his wife was awake. She did not understand what was happening to her. By now she had no memory of how to cook and prepare a meal, something that was second nature to a Mom of eight, grandmother and great grandmother.

As the calls for help continued, I knew what I had to do! I gave up my career in NYC to give back to my Mom, my best friend, who now needed assistance. Moving back into your parent’s home in your mid 40s was interesting. My father came from the generation of all work and provide food and shelter for your family. It was our Mother who was the nurturer. Needless to say, I was never my fathers favorite child, he had a lot to chose from and it never was me. I had hoped being the one child that stepped up and sacrificed to move in and help both of them deal with the devastation Alzheimer’s brings, Dad would finally “appreciate me” and I gain his respect. Instead he was very defiant and at 85 he believed Mom didn’t need help and he could care for her alone.

I immediately realized how much my Mother was able to hide the progression of her Alzheimer’s over the long distance. Toothpaste was being placed on the back of her toothbrush. Bleach almost watered the plants and after eating a piece of toast in the morning, she would immediately tell me she had none. I faced her night walks by being awakened to blood curdling screams of my name. I would find her downstairs of her home, crying, scared, not knowing what room she was in. This all greeted me in my first week of moving in.

Living and caring for her the next 1 1/2 years was a “blessing” I will cherish the rest of my life. One of the hardest jobs I have ever done but the most rewarding! We worked together to stimulate her mind, me hoping her memory would stay with her a little longer. Frustrated at first, she did learn to play solitaire again, practiced reciting all her children’s names, exercised and improved her eating habits. The results were phenomenal as she developed a renewed sense of life. 24 hour loving care made a huge improvement in her daily existence. It did come to me at a very large price, but I would do it again tomorrow for her.

I have read if there is dysfunction in a family it can be magnified by Alzheimer’s. This is sadly what happened to my large family. I will also say jealousy and greed played a role. I was kicked out of my parents’ house by an older brother and I have spent the last 24 months in Family Court fighting for my Mothers rights. All of these actions were done behind the back of the Matriarch of our family.

Because of my Mother’s Alzheimer’s, she was deemed incompetent by my Father and she was not allowed any say into her human desires or needs. She voices them, but they are ignored. The Court system could not protect her and Adult Protection Services believes being fed is all that is required of an Alzheimer’s person. I am an Adult child and have no baring over an Adult husband. At 89 years old my Father continues to be manipulated and lead down a very dark path. Forgiven by me as he has dementia himself and should never have been set up and put in the position he was.

All the while; my best friend, my Mother, my hero has been removed from my life. Alzheimer’s has “not taken my Mother’s last breathe,” in fact our bond was so strong, she today knows I was removed from her life. She does not understand why, but she continues to ask for me and wants to see me. My gracious deed which I would do all over again today was turned into false declarations and abuse of our Court System, all to remove a daughter from her Mothers life. I have asked my Father why, and he has no answer for me and hangs up.

So, I run this Marathon and fund raise with the hopes that a cure will be found so no other family will be destroyed from the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I advocate for elder rights. I am also very aware that unlike many of my teammates who’s Moms have been diagnosed with “Early Onset Alzheimer’s” I was not robbed of a Mother’s love and lives shared experiences. I have had my Mother, my best friend for a good 30 years more than they will....there loss is so devastating and unfathomable to me.

As I have trained these last 4 months, my teammates and coaches who unknowingly through there support, friendship and encouragement have helped me emotionally deal with my tragic family situation and battle I face every day to keep my Mother in my life. As I have learned; drive, desire, dedication and good health will get you to the Marathon. Drive, desire, dedication and DONATIONS will also lead to a Cure. As I cross that finish line Mom, I will continue applying that same drive, desire and dedication to our reunion. Alzheimer’s should never be used as an excuse to isolate or deny any human’s needs and desires. I am here to help, protect and advocate for you and others who have been put in such a tragic position.

This one is for the two of us Mom....I love you always, your good girl Carol. XOX

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