Four years ago, I sat down one evening with Kim and Phil Wilson to talk about Kim’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I remember thinking how wonderfully brave Kim was, knowing what a daunting future lay in store for her. I asked her if she had a message for other sufferers, and she said:
“Be strong, carry on, and don’t let it get you down. You have a life right now, so it’s very, very important to live that life as long as you possibly can, just one day at a time. It makes something for everybody else, that’s what’s important. Yes, this is a sh**y thing that has happened, but I’m still alive, and as long as I’m still alive I will keep movin’, and goovin’, as long as I can. Let’s go, wherever it is we’re going to go, let’s keep moving.”
Kim is still strong, and still movin’ and grovin’ though to somewhat of a slower pace. However, she is still the same kind-hearted and beautiful woman that she was when I met her over a decade ago. These days, Kim struggles with day-to-day activities we all take for granted like bathing and dressing, and she needs assistance at all times.
Most days, I’m pretty sure she still remembers who I am. When I talk to her, I like to reminisce about the fun times we’ve had over the past few years, like the time we baked over 60 cupcakes and iced silly faces on all of them, or the time we decided we were going to start a band called the Intergalactic Rednecks. And the beautiful thing about that is she still laughs about those times. And when we start singing the Beatles, well…she might not know what day it is today, and she might not be able to tell you the time, but she can remember just about every word to every Beatles song. And on Friday nights, when Kim and Phil and I get together at their house and play music and sing, that is one of my happiest moments with two people I love very much.
My heart is heavy for Phil, who I know misses the Kim he married eleven years ago, but I have the utmost pride in and respect for this man because his patience rarely falters. He is strong yet gentle, and always loving to his dear wife, and he is determined to keep her right by his side for as long as he possibly can. Kim would not have gotten this far without his loyalty or the help and support of our many friends, the Alzheimer’s Association, and of course Emory Neurology Department.
As all Alzheimer’s caregivers know, this is a long and difficult trek, which becomes more challenging as the journey goes on. I miss the old Kim, but I still love the woman she is today. In the worlds of one of Phil and Kim’s favorite songs:
“Don’t take your life for granted
Why don’t you hold on tight
To what you’ve been handed
Cause you just don’t know how long you will have it.”
Hold on Tight by Greg Holden
By Corinna Underwood