Celebrating 500 Miles — Walking Through Grief Alone

A tribute to my mother — watching resilience flourish during pandemic anguish

Marijke McCandless

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Mom and Dad (Photo credit: author)

About a year ago we all became aware that the pandemic was real and would affect us in ways none of us could have imagined. Little did we know, the year would be a pilgrimage into the disconnected unknown. But for my mom, this reality hit home at the most difficult transition point in her life just as she was dealing with her husband of 60 years (my dad) who had Alzheimer’s.

Dad’s Alzheimer’s worsens

By January 2020, mom’s devoted care for him had crossed into the epic realm as she faithfully followed a strict protocol to prolong their life together, religiously following the advice of Dr. Bredesen, a well-known doctor of neurodegenerative disease who wrote the book The End of Alzheimer’s.

The protocol was complicated and required much diligence, including special testing, a host of supplements taken at various times of the day, a strict exercise regimen, a greatly restricted diet, proper dental care, enough sleep. She followed it all to the letter, easily adding a full-time job onto her already full-time job of taking care of not only the household but also the yard and all the bills, which previously had been my father’s domain.

All during 2019, dad had been steadily getting worse. He put oil in the gas tank, she’d reported to me one day. On another, He’s going through the trash one piece at a time. Then, He won’t take his supplements. He’s stealing candy at the checkout stand. He peed in the oven.

Mom was exhausted. There was so much work to do, putting out his clothes, getting his vitamins ready, preparing special diets, ordering vitamins and specialty food items, dealing with a printer on the fritz, figuring out how to repair the lawnmower, buying new gutters, moving money out of savings into the checkings because dad had forgotten to pay the visa bill, taking over all the finances, changing passwords, trying to deal with dad’s combative insistence that he was fully capable of driving his sports car —plus, trying to still have fun together...Meanwhile, dad would put his coat on at 8:30 am and stand by the front door for hours waiting to go out with mom.

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Marijke McCandless

Marijke McCandless is an awareness practitioner, playfulness instigator and award-winning writer. Her recipe? Listen. Play. Write. https://marijkemccandless.com