Main photo (Granny, MawMaw, Mom, Me 8 years ago)
Did you know every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease? Ranked the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S, over 5.8 million Americans are currently living with this disease. “Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a degenerative brain disorder. The disease breaks down and destroys brain cells and the neurons that connect brain cells to one another. This damage causes a decline in memory, behavior, and mental capabilities.” [ Read more on Alzheimers ] The average life expectancy after someone is diagnosed is 8-10 years, with the average for women being 5.7 years post diagnosis.
December 24, 2000, 19 years ago, Dorothy B. Wallis, or granny as she is so affectionately called was officially diagnosed with having Alzheimer’s disease. On November 3, 2019, my granny made 90 years old and she is still here with us telling Alzheimer’s disease where it can go. She is the mother of 10 children, 17 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, 9 great-great grandchildren.
Some people measure their level of success by the amount of money in their bank accounts, the number of cars they own, or the fancy clothes they can afford to buy. For me, my granny’s success is evident by the amount of love she receives on a daily from her growing tribe whether it is in person, via face-time, marco polo chat, etc. Her success lies in the legacy she has built and created. Her success is measured by the fact that she has surpassed the average and almost 19 years later her family can celebrate her 90th birthday with her.
Dorothy’s strength over the years cannot be placed into words. Proverbs 31:25, best describes the energy you felt when you were in the room with her. You could always manage to catch a smile or hear a laugh, even when opening her eyes was no longer a possibility. Growing up, my granny had every possible church hat you can think in colors you might not even imagine. She did not miss a Sunday and that is obvious by how she does not miss a moment to sing/hum a hymn or mumble a portion of a prayer. If you listen close enough when she speaks, her faith in prayer is still evident.
Her continuance to fight the fight is nothing short of an achievement in my book. She defines what it means to be a woman. Women are the creators and givers of life. The strength needed to birth 10 children is something I could never imagine, as I barely made it through with my two kids without having an emotional breakdown. Women have to be strong even when life is hitting them heavily in all directions. Women don’t get to take a break. Women carry burden after burden after burden and have to do so with dignity and grace while still carrying a smile. Women have to push through the pain and the hurt everyday. Women aren’t allowed to give up. My granny embodies all of these things. When Alzheimer’s says “YES”, my granny continues to say , ” NO, I’m not ready to leave my family just yet”. She smiles in the face of pain with a refusal to be defeated. Her love continues to spread through all of us as small ounces of her strength slowly give us the push we each need to succeed and move forward another day.
We are #TeamDorothy, we love you, and we will forever live the fight to #EndAlzheimers