I am very happy to share my Walk to End Alzheimer’s story, it is actually one that was well talked about 6 years ago. My husband and I got married the day before the WALK in 2009. We had our entire wedding party get up early the day after and walk with us in honor of my father-in-law and in memory of my grandmother.
I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s in 2006, she was residing in Oklahoma at the time of her death. It was extremely hard for all of us to watch what she went through the last couple years of her life. Just a month before her death, I met my husband! Even though we had only been seeing each other for a month, he drove out to Iowa with me for the funeral. I knew then he was a keeper!! :)
In 2007 my father-in-law was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, he was only 53 at the time. I have never seen anyone effected as fast as he was. We didn’t get to see him often as he lived in Northern California, but when we did it was so hard for my husband to see how much his father had changed.
In 2009, my husband and I were getting preparations ready for our wedding. We had our date set, September 18th, a Friday. People wondered why we didn’t choose the Saturday, well, that’s because of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. We wanted to make sure we participated. My father-in-law was not going to make it out for the wedding, his doctor’s did not think that the trip would be good for him. It was very hard to deal with that all the way up to the wedding, my husband kept wishing that his dad could be there.
It’s now the Wednesday before our wedding, a car pulls up to our driveway. My husband notices that there’s too many people in the car. He opens the front door and out of the car comes his dad! You could probably imagine my husband’s shock and surprise! His aunt was able to get him out to Denver for our wedding!! It truly was a blessing, we were able to get great pictures of the entire family, my husband got to share that day with his dad. Then, his dad walked with us at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s the next day. We couldn’t have asked for anything more!
Fast forward to Summer of 2010. We’re pregnant!! I’m due on December 7th, we don’t know what we’re having. We get a call from California. My husband’s dad is not doing well at all. He’s in the hospital and they don’t know how long he has. We didn’t hesitate, we got off work that day, jumped in the car and drove straight for 18 hours to California. Which, as you can imagine, being 5 months pregnant was not much fun to do. His dad ended up making it through several days, nothing was changing in his condition though. I had to get back to Denver as did my husband, we were due to find out the sex of our baby in three days.
Before we left California, knowing that his dad only had days left, we told the family that if we are having a boy, we want to name him after my father-in-law. Everyone was touched at our gesture. Two days later, my husband is driving back to Denver from California, and gets the call that his dad died. The next day, we find out that we are having a baby boy! We now have a very rambunctious 4-year-old, Richard Edward Holbrook II (Ricky), named after his Grandpa Rick.
As if this story isn’t long enough. In 2012 I gave birth to a lovely baby girl. We named her Elizabeth, after her Great Grandma Betty (originally Elizabeth). Now in 2015, we want to bring back our original Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, Getting Sweaty for Rick and Betty, and walk with my two kids who are our living memorials to those that we lost to Alzheimer’s.
Our Alzheimer’s story has definitely been one with great highs and great lows. Due to our experiences, my husband, who went to school to be a golf course manager, working in private country clubs for 5 years, changed his career. He now works for Brookdale Senior Living in Arvada, he’s the Executive Director. He looked long and hard at his life while his dad was suffering from Alzheimer’s and he said to himself, what am I doing? He felt that his hands were tied since he wasn’t able to take care of him out in California. So he did the next best thing. He started a career where he could help those here in Denver living with the disease. To this day he doesn’t regret that decision. He loves his job, and his residents love him!
– Jessica Holbrook, Team Captain of Getting Sweaty for Rick and Betty