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From the ashes of her eventual passing arose I Will Never Forget. I hope you enjoy meeting my mother in this brief interview in which I pretended to be a reporter.
ECP: You and Wayne had three children, two sons Gerald and David and a daughter
Elaine. Tell me a little about her.
BW: Elaine was adorable but spunky and always testing the limits. I use to say about her and at times to her: “There was a little girl who had a curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very good, but when she was bad she was horrid”
ECP: That’s funny! She did stay “horrid?”
BW: No, but she did remain spunky, which was an asset when I needed an advocate to speak for me when I no longer could.
ECP: Despite being Catholic, you have some liberal views on certain issues. Tell us what you don’t agree with?
BW: I had three children on the rhythm method of birth control so obviously that doesn’t work. Also, I wanted to have our daughter’s name be Elaine but was told by some opinionated nun that there was no Saint Elaine so I couldn’t use it. Back then the church was pretty strict about using names of saints for our children. We had just buried our 20 month-old son David in August so the idea that the Church would dictate our child’s name while we were experiencing such unspeakable grief, was unacceptable. Our Parish Priest however overruled the nun indicating that Elaine is a derivative of St. Bernadette. I laughed!
Lastly, I am not an advocate of pro-active measures to end life prematurely but I strongly support a quality of life.
ECP: How sad that you lost your son. What happened?
ECP: You mentioned Elaine was your voice when you couldn’t advocate for yourself. Can you tell us more about that time?
BW: Well due to Alzheimer’s, I don’t remember everything (Ha!) but she was my rock! At times when the dementia fog lifted though, I knew everything she was doing for me and thanked her. When reciprocal communication was beyond my control I “spoke” with my eyes and she listened.
ECP: You wandered from your care facilities on two occasions with dire consequences.
BW: The first time I thought I needed to take the groceries out of the trunk. It was a crazy, misguided notion because I didn’t have a car anymore, wasn’t driving and hadn’t gone grocery shopping in the middle of the night. Alzheimer’s really plays terrible tricks on your mind! I fell hard outside and couldn’t get up.
The last time, my dementia-induced hallucinations had me seeing my own mother, a wonderful woman who died when I was in my 30s. I felt compelled to find her, thinking she was across the street and needed me to take care of her. On a cold winter night, wearing only thin red flannel pajamas, I was able to wander out the front door of my locked facility because someone forgot to reset the alarm. Five hours later I was found literally near frozen to death in severe hypothermia.
ECP: Tell us how you feel about having your life immortalized in a memoir.
BW: Unlike Elaine who shines in the limelight, I’m more private. She has my blessing though because the intent of her book is to support others on their journey through dementia as well as supporting Alzheimer’s awareness.
She and I have always been able to express ourselves verbally and in writing with passion, integrity and honesty.
I am proud that Elaine’s legacy is telling this story, one that had to be told, as it is everyone’s story. I am especially proud that she donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of I Will Never Forget to support Alzheimer’s research.
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