Monday, August 26, 2013

Turn Up the Heat

Linda at Walmart
A group of four volunteers sat outside Walmart Saturday morning with forget-me-nots and Walk to End Alzheimer’s information. This has been an annual event for the past several years. When Sheila and I first set up, it seemed that no one was going to make eye contact and our “Good morning” greetings often when unanswered. I couldn’t help but think that this was going to be a waste of time.

We arrived early—eight thirty—in hopes of beating the heat. We’ve gone through the entire summer with unusually cool weather, and here we were outside on a day when the thermometer was predicted to zoom into the nineties.

After thirty minutes, flies began to buzz and the sun barreled down on the spot where we had set up our table. “Do we dare move it any closer?” I asked eyeballing the small spot of shade between the soda machine and the trashcan. “We don’t want to be so close that the door stays open.”

We left our table where it was and moved into the small spot of shade. Then, people began to stop and ask about the Walk and about Alzheimer’s. The morning had started getting interesting. They placed donations into our collection jar and we had them write names on the forget-me-nots. Sometimes they wrote a loved one’s name. Other times, they wrote their own name. I handed the marker to a little boy and he signed with scribbles.

“How old is he?” I asked.

“He’s four. His name is Cash.”

I smiled. It never occurred to me that he was too young to write, and of course, he would have a distinctive name. Most kids do now-a-days.

Sheila with Forget-Me-Nots
“Sheila, with all the nice weather we’ve had this summer, why did we pick the hottest day to schedule this?”

“Well, we didn’t know it was going to be this hot,” she pointed out. I used a forget-me-not for a fan and she used a flyer.

From time to time, we saw people we knew, but most passersby were strangers to us. Most had the story of loss that paves the path of the Alzheimer’s journey.

Our donation jar filled up with dollars, fives, tens, and one twenty. The forget-me-not skirt around our table grew in length.

We handed out team packets and donor envelopes. People just walked past and stuffed in dollars. Their voices murmured, “Mom,” “grandpa,” “husband,” “friend...”

One woman wrote a name on a flower and said, “My mom won’t go see the doctor, but we’re pretty sure she has Alzheimer’s.”

I handed her a brochure. “Call the number on the bottom. They will help you even though you don’t have a diagnosis. Encourage your mom to get a medical workup to find out whether she does have Alzheimer’s. Other conditions can cause dementia symptoms and some are reversible.”

“Thank you so much!” she said. “I never thought of that.”

Then, the highlight of my day—a woman named Betty told us about a new Alzheimer’s Support Group. Our group had dwindled, and we stopped having regular meetings. People call me from time to time about support group and I refer them to the chapter and offer to meet with them. Now, a woman stood in front of me telling me that she was going to have the required training to be a support group facilitator. I wrote down the information.

“An Alzheimer’s article is coming out in The Democrat,” I said. “She wants some information for a side-bar and this is so timely.”

Shortly after meeting Betty, Wyann brought the forget-me-nots and donations they had collected at the other entrance. Soon, Jessica and Samantha brought over the money they had collected at Big Lots. She also brought the yummy looking cupcakes she had left over.

It felt like mother nature had turned up the heat, and although we had rearranged our table to be in the shade, we were sweltering.

“Well, now we need to stay until all the cupcakes are gone,” Sheila said.

“I’m game,” I replied, “but I’m tired of drinking hot water. I’ll go to McDonald’s and get us some iced tea.”

Two hours later, the iced tea was almost gone, and the last two cupcakes went to a woman who had four kids. “They can share,” she said.

As we packed up and folded the table, Sheila said, “You know, it was hot, but it was fun.”

“It was! I feel good about it,” I said. “I’m so excited about the Walk!” I took my things to my car and headed back to the store to get the items on my shopping list.

As I neared the entrance, a man holding two shopping bags said, “Whew, it’s getting hot out here, isn’t it?”

“It sure is,” I agreed just as I felt a blast of cold air from the open door. The heat is on in Missouri, but that isn’t going to stop us from doing what we can about Alzheimer’s.

Copyright (c) August 2013 by L.S. Fisher


Anonymous said...

I'll be there.

Anonymous said...

Hope you have a good turnout