Friday, September 13, 2013

Spotlight - Karl Davenport

Each week we will be picking members to spotlight to tell their Alzheimer's story and why they are running in this year's New York City marathon. Check in each day for new updates on who will be spotlighted and get to know your teammates...(each person is picked at random)

Mom, about 4 years before stage 7.
My mother, Camille Davenport, was a very smart lady. She taught school most of her working life, only taking a break when her three children were babies. When my dad was stressed from work and family pressures, she held us all together. She insisted that her three children were involved in church, were well groomed and well prepared for life. College for the three of us was a given. As the three children headed out on their own, she became a loving, caring grandmother and mother-in-law. Her kids, their spouses and her eight grandchildren loved her so much.

Dad, at his 80th birthday.
Dad had a heart attack in his 50’s, and was forced to retire early. Mom, then, also retired, and she and dad enjoyed about three years of productive, fun time together in the late 1980’s. In the early 1990’s something changed. Mom started asking questions. The same questions, over and over. She, all of a sudden, couldn’t complete the simplest of tasks. She was still friendly and kind, but had difficulty maintaining focus on subjects and tasks.

Dad took her for an examination. The doctor concluded that mom had Alzheimer’s. As they left the office, mom said she never wanted to hear that word again. Dad obliged the request for years, until it really did not make any difference.

Mom, bringing Karl home from the hospital.
Mom’s decline was gradual over a period of about ten years. She wandered quite a bit, and stayed up every night. Dad was there for her every minute of every day for those years. He loved her so much. 
He took care of everything from cooking to cleaning and caring for her all day, and watching her all night for years.

After a short trial of an experimental drug, mom slipped into stage 7. She was on the floor, unable to talk or get up. Following a short stay in a local hospital, she was moved to a care facility. Dad still was with her every day, talking to her, feeding her and praying aloud with her. He would mention all the children and grandchildren’s names in his beautiful prayers. She would not respond, but she heard. Sometimes she might do a half smile. He loved her so much.

Mom never lost her sweet spirit. One day a nurse came in to reposition her in the bed. Mom cried when she came in. The nurse said “aw, you don’t like me”, and mom responded with her first understandable words in weeks, “Oh, I do like you…it just hurts”.

Mom and dad at their 50th wedding anniversary, with their kids and spouses.
She did hurt, she did suffer. So did dad, so did her kids and grandkids. We still do. Mom passed in 2005, and dad left us last year. I was blessed to spend the last six years of dad’s life close to him. I retired early after mom died to be close to dad and help him out. He had committed almost 15 years entirely to mom’s care, and was lost without her. He missed her so much.

This devastating disease is impacting so many families like it did mine. I don’t want others to have to go through this. I run in memory of my mom and her loving caregiver, my dad. I run to end Alzheimer’s.

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