Jenny's Story

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My dad was a Boeing engineer for 45 years. He is my Hero. He was a husband, father, & a grandpa. He was a magic gardener & penguin drawer. I was his little Jenny. Dad started forgetting little things like words, names, or where he put things. He then progressed to not being able to write, getting lost and then one day he didn’t know who I was. I tried to live in the moment & to feel that at least he knew I was a person who cared about him & was trying to take care of him. I tried to believe that it wasn’t important that he no longer knew that I was his little girl, but it broke my heart.There were lots of funny moments & that is what I will hang on to. My dad has been gone a long time & I am able to focus on the love & the funny times. Once, Boyd, my husband at the time, came home from work & my dad was in the kitchen. Boyd asked if he could do anything for him. My dad pulled his hand out of one pocket and showed Boyd a hotdog & out of the other pocket he pulled a bun. Do you know what to do with these, he asked? He knew he was hungry, he knew they were food, he just didn’t know what to do with them! Boyd laughed & cooked him a hotdog. My dad didn’t realize how blessed he was to have Boyd.My Mom was also a victim of Alzheimer’s. She was a poet; president of the WA Poets Association for years; she did crossword puzzles constantly. She read everything she could get her hands on. Words were her life & then the words were gone. She passed away in January 2008 and her memory is so fresh only the sadness & waste is what comes to mind. I know in time I will think of the love & laughter but for now the sadness & anger surrounding this terrible disease gives me strength to fight for a cure.To understand Alzheimer’s, imagine your best friend, your parent, or your spouse & all the memories you share. You both relive precious moments & feelings just by looking at photographs or hearing a song. Now imagine not being able to do that. You lose your loved one as they literally go from being the light of your life to becoming, in essence, a stranger. You grieve a loss even though they are right in front of you.Bill, my partner has an aunt in her 80s whose memory is still delicious & vivid. She describes her fabulous life as experiencing things to fill her mind or “room” as she calls it. She is continually decorating her room with pictures of all the beautiful places she has been & all the fabulous people she has known. People with Alzheimer’s have had all of their pictures stolen from them until there is nothing but blank walls.I have been in the nursery business for over 30 years. I have dreamed of owning my own nursery since I was the garden girl at Payless drug store. I have to believe that the reason Bill & I have finally achieved that dream is greater than just selling plants. I also have to believe there is a bigger reason for both of my parents having Alzheimer’s. I am strongly convinced that the two combined factors have steered us toward doing something positive by raising money for Alzheimer’s research.March 2009 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I told my 21-year-old daughter Becky about my cancer, we decided that it would actually be a blessing if I had breast cancer instead of Alzheimer’s. Breast cancer is treatable and very often curable. If somehow I lost my battle with cancer at least I would lose it knowing and loving all those around me and I would feel their love.My Garden raises money for Alzheimer’s research through auctions and other events. The community has been very supportive and to date My Garden and their customers have raised over 25,000 since opening the garden center in November 2006.