It’s still difficult for Melanie Stewart to talk about her mother’s recent passing from frontotemporal dementia at the age of 62. The pain still lingers and she says the worst part is watching her father grieving for his beloved wife.
“My dad did not get the future they planned. They were going to retire together. It’s extra heartbreaking to watch him as this disease really steals everything even after the person you love passes away.”
For the past seven years, Melanie’s father was the primary caregiver while Melanie and her family helped out when they could.
“My dad told me that the minute he met my mother, he knew he was going to marry her. They were introduced at church and their first date was to an Atlanta Braves game although, it was my mother who kept asking my dad to go out on dates”.
Just after her mother’s dementia diagnosis, Melanie started a Walk to End Alzheimer’s team in Peachtree City. Her team, Stewart Family and Friends have raised this year over $1,400 with a goal of $2,000. Melanie also serves on the Peachtree City Walk committee as the mission chair.
“I decided even after my mother passed away, I would stay involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. My biggest desire is for people not to go through what my family went through”.
Although Melanie’s memories of her mother are clouded by her battle with dementia, she now takes some comfort in realizing how much she is like her mother.
“My dad and my sisters will all tell me that I am basically my mom. I look like her, act like her, and have similar talents and traits as she did. I find that sometimes when I am making a cake or working on a project, I will say or do something that reminds me of her. This suddenly takes me back to remembering my mom for who she really was before the disease took her.”
Peachtree City Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the second largest Walk event in Georgia. This year, the three-mile walk event is expected to raise $270,000 for Alzheimer’s care, support and research programs with the Alzheimer’s Association.
On Melanie’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s page, she says “Last year my family and I joined the voices of people across the nation in the fight against dementia in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This year we are doing it again. It’s my dream and goal, that one day that relief of having a dementia diagnosis, can remain a relief, that it is no longer the end of the road”.
To start a team in your community, visit georgiawalk.org.
To donate to Melanie Stewart’s team, visit Stewart Family and Friends.