When Mindy asked me if I wanted a tent for the Mozark Press sponsor booth at the Sedalia Walk to End Alzheimer’s, I said, “Yes, it will provide shade.” Last year, it was miserably hot.
Two days prior to the walk, the rain moved in. Sometimes, it sprinkled; sometimes it poured. The walk is rain or shine. I was definitely hoping for shine, even hot shine.
The morning of the walk, I was encouraged, but still wore my waterproof snow boots and my “Memory Walk” purple rain jacket from fifteen or so years ago.
Volunteers and the committee showed up at the Highway Gardens before dawn to set up tents, and arrange tables and chairs. I unloaded copies of Treasure Trove of Memories and put them on the table safely encased in their waterproof tubs.
Things were shaping up nicely—then, the rain came. Registration began and an additional tent was set up near the registration table. My team members started showing up, including my friend and fellow advocate, Jennifer, who had driven in from Jefferson City to walk in the rain with us.
A few team members watched my table when I went to greet Congresswoman Hartzler and her field representative, Rachel Gilroy. Rain dripped from the Congresswoman’s umbrella as I introduced her to family, volunteers, and Faith Bemiss, a reporter from the local newspaper. During an interview, Vicky Hartzler talked about Alzheimer’s research funding. After talking about the increases approved by Congress, she told the reporter, “Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America.”
I escorted Congresswoman Hartzler to the stage area. As we were waiting for the presentation of the flag and the national anthem, I saw that WyAnn had her trophy, but mine was still in my car. Our teams won the trophies from last year, hers for the biggest team, and Jim’s Team for the best fundraising team. I sent a text to my son who retrieved the trophy from the car.
Congresswoman Hartzler shared encouraging words with the walkers. She spoke of her hope that a cure would be found in her lifetime. During the ceremony, she held a purple flower in memory of her mother and mother-in-law.
The walk began and I looked for my team. I found them, and realized the team banner was still in the car. The walk was a short-cut of the short-cut that we had used in the past. Most people headed to their cars while some of us started putting the tables, chairs, and tents back where they belonged.
This was my twenty-first walk and only the second time we had to walk in the rain. I’ve never been so wet in my life outside of a bathtub. The snow boots were great and never leaked. I peeled off my jacket and climbed into my car. My hair was plastered to my skull. I couldn’t remember where I’d put my comb so I fluffed it with my fingertips.
The difference between waterproof and water repellant became apparent. My Grand Champion shirt, which was hidden the entire day, was soaked. My jeans were soaked, but I wasn’t too uncomfortable because my feet were dry. The snow boots did the job!
Sometimes rain falls in our lives at the most inconvenient times, but rain is essential to life itself. I certainly didn’t blame the people who stayed home, but it was inspiring to see the ones who were compelled to come and walk. It did my heart good to see those who smiled, hugged, and encouraged each other.
I walked for Jim. I walked for all who have died from the disease. I walked for the five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. I walked for my kids, grandkids, and babies not yet born. I walked for a world without Alzheimer’s.
Copyright © September 2018 by L.S. Fisher