"There is hope in the future and beauty in the moment."
The Longest Day has afforded us the promise of this statement.
When my incredible husband Steve was diagnosed nearly four years ago with younger-onset (also known as early-onset) Alzheimer’s, we knew we needed guidance. The Alzheimer’s Association has provided us with that and more.
The Longest Day gave us an opportunity to take an active role. It also provided us with a chance to have friends and family gather and rally around Steve to let him know how loved and supported he is. We honor him by hosting a day filled with some of his favorite activities, and our grandchildren are empowered as they use their small but poignant voices to honor their Gramps and raise awareness. They have even coined the phrase “When life gives you Alzheimer’s…make lemonade!” Selling lemonade is only one of today’s activities.
We have run, walked, biked, swam, played horseshoes and danced Zumba. We have spiffed up the exterior of our old beach house, done puzzles and sang. We have shared old memories and created new ones. We have laughed and cried. We have honored those living with Alzheimer’s and memorialized those whom we have loved and lost. This is our day to celebrate life with Steve, and assure ourselves of what can’t be taken from us with this disease—love!
As the sun sets, a soft glow of purple washes across the faces of the nearly 50 people in our beach circle. We take time to reflect on what we have accomplished, and we ceremoniously offer an intention of hope and honor. Each of us ignites our individual light in the sand and then we join them together. As each is lit, we watch the dim light of a single candle grow from a faint glow to a radiant brightness. It’s then that we realize that there is hope in the future and beauty in this very moment.
It’s now time for contemplation of what has been achieved today, The Longest Day.
We have raised substantial funds for the Alzheimer’s Association, which has not only been an incredible wealth of resources for us on this journey, but also the force behind making global strides in research, care and education.
We have exhausted our muscles from our various activities. Our faces are sore from the shared smiles. Our arms and shoulders carry the weight of both giving and receiving numerous “strength-giving” hugs.
Our lungs are contented by being filled with fresh sea air. Our hearts are warmed and overflowing with the love and support of our family, friends and neighbors. As a group, we have turned Wells Beach purple to raise awareness. We have fought hard for future generations to realize a time when Alzheimer’s disease is just a memory. We have witnessed the true power of a community effort.
Thank you to all who are fighting this good fight! And to those who will face another “longest day” tomorrow…we do this for you.
About the Author: Judy Johanson is care partner for her husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s at age 59. Together with her family and friends, Judy is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 21, 2015, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.