The painful memory won’t go away

January 13, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Having lived over 50 years now, some of my childhood memories have faded somewhat. But there is one that stands out as vividly as the day it happened.

I was one of 20-plus grandchildren on my mother’s side. But I had the distinction of being my Grampa’s favourite. Probably because I was the youngest and was babysat by my Grandparents while my mom worked, so he saw me every day. And it was WONDERFUL to be the favourite. He used to walk to the store every single day in any kind of weather to buy me a box of Lucky Elephant popcorn. I had a shoe box full of the treasured toys that came with each box. He called me “Babe”.

But Grampa’s health started to decline, and he had to go into hospital for a lengthy stay … and I wasn’t allowed to see him for quite a while.

The day I finally got to go see him I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I had missed him so much and was so worried about him. I’ll never forget the feeling when I walked into his hospital room, anticipating a big welcome. But it didn’t come.

He was looking at me, and he looked just like Grampa always did, except his eyes didn’t have that familiar loving, playful look. And then he asked someone who I was. I had to be “introduced” to him, but it was clear that he didn’t know me. I was devastated. It was a visceral pain, and I feel it just as freshly in the retelling of this story as I did on that day, when I was six.

January is Alzheimer Awareness month. 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias today, and the number is expected to reach 1.4 million in the next 15 years.

The key message of this national campaign is #StillHere, which is a very timely and important reminder. There IS life after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Our loved ones are “still here” and each person living with dementia is unique.

In order for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, and their caregivers to live well and thrive, they need to be linked to a community of education, support and quality services. Alzheimer’s Societies, such as the Alzheimer Society of Dufferin County, fill that need.

I am a volunteer Board Member with the Alzheimer Society of Dufferin County. The mission of the Alzheimer Society of Dufferin County is to provide hope, relief and support and to partner with individuals and families throughout their journey with dementia. The demand for services within Dufferin County is dramatically growing, and the need for donations to help run much needed programs has never been higher.

Our biggest fundraiser, the annual Walk for Alzheimer’s, will this year be held on Sunday, May 15th, 9 a.m. to noon, at the beautiful Island Lake Trail, Hockley Road entrance. Walk “home base” will be located across the road at Mono Amaranth Public School.

Please consider signing up at to join us in this important fundraiser on a (fingers crossed!) beautiful Sunday. Even better, form a team! It promises to be a fun and worthwhile day, and all funds raised will help accommodate the growing need within Dufferin.
Grampa walked to the store for me every day – I look forward to walking in his memory in May.
Thank you.

Karen Belton
2016 Walk for Alzheimer’s Chair

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