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In My Community
Tana Dahlquist - A Mother Always Has a Place in a Child's Heart
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(left) Tana, and her mother Darlene

There are billions of individuals throughout the world that are required to work weekends, birthdays and holidays. They often work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and must work standing up, sitting down or bending over. They must be able to act silly, but maintain discipline at the same time. This occupation, to many, can only be fulfilled by these lovely human beings we call “mom”.

Wauwatosa resident, Tana Peters Dahlquist, can agree as her mother Darlene Dalquist, 75, was a stay at home mother to her five siblings. Darlene loved baking for all of her children’s sporting events and neighborhood friends. She was involved in their community church and was the secretary at Marquette University for approximately seven years.  In her free time she enjoyed playing bridge and dancing to polka music.

“Mom was the center of everything,” Tana said. “All of the (neighborhood) kids levitated to our house. Kids would come over before school to eat breakfast and after school to play before their parents got home from work. Often times when kids were too dressed up she would give them our clothes to put on.”

But approximately five years ago the neighborhood go- to mom was diagnosed with dementia.
“She just did so many things and those things started interfering with her daily life,” Tana said. “She quit going to choir because all of a sudden she couldn’t focus anymore and she stopped playing bridge.” 

However, the fun- loving mother and grandmother to 13, who was once the loudest cheering mother in the stands, still has that eagerness in her.

“She does a lot of repeating stuff lately,” Tana said. “She’ll come up to you and say do you know how much I love you? And if you say no she starts singing ‘I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug and around the neck.’” These song lyrics are from the musical Guys and Dolls composed by Frank Loesser. 

Darlene’s husband of 54 years, Richard, is at Darlene’s side 24/7. With a smile continually planted on Darlene’s face, Tana reminds us that we should all be as happy as Darlene is. Although for the ones who have watched Darlene’s dementia progress a smile is not always the easiest to uphold.

“I’ve been so dependent on my mom for so much throughout my life that I have to let so much of the past go and take each day as it comes because it’s one more day with my mom,” Tana said.

Tana and her sister Tracy took a “Savvy Caregiver” course presented by the Alzheimer’s Association to not only help Darlene, but to also help themselves understand what their mother is going through.

Tana, as a child, referred to her mother as her protector, who always protected Tana from her three brothers. Her mother’s supportive instinct will live on, as Tana has written some of what will become a series of children’s stories pertaining to the struggles of bullying and growing up. Darlene’s character will play what better role, than the mom. Darlene was the center of Tana’s family and she advises children from all around to not take their parents for granted.

“Cherish everyday with them,” Tana said.   

The Dahlquist family


 

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