The Memory Walk

Last Saturday I walked for my mum, my aunt, my mother in law and my friend’s mum Brigid. We gathered at The Tower of London, hundreds of people impacted by Alzheimer’s. Names and photos on people’s backs hinting at the stories that brought people here. Loved ones lost to Dementia and with the onset of Dementia the lives of family members changed forever.

Our mum died almost 18 months ago now and I miss her every day. Her photo on my phone prompts memories of her. One day she was at home, then hospital and then to a nursing home, then talk of end of life plans and then all too quickly it was the end of her life. She recognised us til her end though her communications became so limited. I remember her holding my hand tight on my last visit, the weekend before she died and as always I told her I loved her. 

Unlike for many dementia seemed to bring mum a sense of peace. Hard to describe but she had a stillness I don’t remember her having before. Almost content as she lay in her bed the last few months, warm and comfortable enjoying some of her favourite sweet treats like creme caramel and rich fruit yoghurts. And I was just happy to sit with her, talking or silent, holding her hand or watching her sleep feeling very full of love for the woman who’d brought me into the world and had done all she could to be a good mum to us all.

So on a blustery London day we walked for our loved ones, for those who will be impacted in the months and years ahead and for a future without dementia. I fought back tears as I read the messages on people’s backs and saw the photos and as I remembered what we as a family have lost. 

Half way round I fell in with T a Burmese man in his late seventies who was walking for his wife who he had cared for for twenty years. I was humbled by his story of love and commitment. We shared tales of love and loss and crossed the finishing line together having kept each other going to the end. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else