Michael has participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past nine years. This is his first year as a volunteer, and he is loving the experience as yet another powerful way to honor his mom.
I was my mom’s only child, a true mama's boy. I knew she needed to be tested for Alzheimer’s when she forgot my 30th birthday.
Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s shortly after she turned 60. In 2018, she eventually lost her impossible battle 12 years later at the age of 72. Every day she would lose a little more of herself.
I remember the last time I heard her say my name. When she no longer recognized me, I was crushed. I don’t think I will ever fully get over that pain. I had to say goodbye to her long before we lost her physically.
Every year, I find comfort when I participate in Walk To End Alzheimer’s. In past years, one of the most extraordinary Walk day experiences has been the Promise Garden Ceremony and the sense of community that comes with it. I have witnessed thousands of people holding up their blue, orange, yellow and purple flowers, indicating how Alzheimer’s has affected them. It is a moment you realize that you are not alone. While this year is different because of COVID (there will not be any large in-person Walk day events), I will still feel the support of this community on Walk day as I walk safely with a small group of family and friends, and others do the same, in honor of those we love and those we have lost.
Mom was a respected piano teacher who taught me the love of piano, so my main form of fundraising for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is through piano concerts. As we all have been sheltering in place for the past months, I had to think outside the box. I decided to stream Facebook Live piano concerts, straight from my home, on the very piano that my mom taught me to play on.
I post the link to my Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, Cindy’s Angels, in the description of my Facebook Live. I have done two broadcasts so far, raising nearly $3000! All the love and support has shown me that even though we are apart, we can still come together to fight this disease.
Alzheimer’s robbed my mom of a time when most people can start lying back a bit, enjoying their families and embracing warm memories. It robbed her of being a grandmother, which she couldn’t wait to be. It robbed her of her hundreds of beloved piano students.
Alzheimer’s robbed me of my mother.
I tell my story, volunteer, fundraise and walk so that my family’s tragedy wasn’t in vain. I want something positive to come out of this darkness.
I support the Alzheimer’s Association in the hopes that one day, we will have that first survivor of this devastating disease, someone to hold the white flower. It is so important, especially during these times, to support the Association. They support caregivers and families affected by the disease and help fund research that will lead to prevention and, hopefully, a cure. Alzheimer’s has zero survivors. That is unacceptable, and something has to be done.
If you are reading this, you may be in a similar situation. Know that there is a ton of support out there, from the 24/7 Helpline to virtual support groups.
No matter where you walk, others are out there supporting you virtually and in their own communities. All those who participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s are committed to this cause. I take this as proof that you and I are not alone; we are all in this together.
Michael wrote a song for his mom, called “Longest Goodbye.” His cousins Matthew and Amy helped him produce it remotely from their own homes. It was very fitting that they could help him with this project, as they all grew up together, and Michael’s mom always thought of his cousins as her own children.
Michael will walk with family and friends in the suburbs of Philadelphia on November 14. Visit his Walk page and listen to more of his music on his website.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s