Rena McDaniel-The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver
Grandma on the far left, other relatives, my Grandpa on the far right and mom just over his left shoulder in black.
This story ran in early April of this year but I thought it was worthy of another look.
I promised to tell you the story of my mom's great escape and here it is. In the early 1950's mom lived in Eastern Kentucky. She was born and raised here. She had 9 brothers and sisters and her father was the local preacher. Mom had traveled to a couple of places to babysit for relatives and she went to Berea College for a year before returning home. Once she got a taste of the life that was out there, living in the mountains no longer held the appeal to her that it had before. She began to think of ways to move away. The dates are a little foggy for her, especially now that she is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease but I am estimating this was around 1954 and she would have been 18. Her parents were not educated and could barely read or write and when a letter would come from her brothers in northern Kentucky they would have her read it to them. This gave her the idea she needed.
This story came as a great shock to me, if you only knew my mother. She is 77 years old and had never as far as my knowledge done ANYTHING wrong. As I said, her father was a preacher and my father was a preacher (before 5 kids came along and he had to change careers). She has never touched alcohol in her life, not even a taste. She has never smoked and until recently I had never heard her utter a curse word except once or twice she might have said "shit". Of course, if you have read myearlier posts she has said a few curse words lately that I didn't even know that she knew!
So back to the story, She got a piece of paper from her father's things and wrote a letter. Now this letter was written to her parents but it wasn't from her, she wrote it as if her brother had written it. I still can't believe my mother was that sneaky! She wrote the letter and stole a penny out of my grandma's "grocery fund" and went to the store to "get the mail". When she got to the store she picked up the mail and bought a stamp which she placed on her letter. Mom then went back home and reported that they had gotten a letter from Junior (her brother) which her mother wanted her to read immediately. In this letter (written by mom) it said that they really needed Lizza to come to northern Kentucky to help out. They needed someone to help with the kids while they worked. The next thing mom knew she was on a bus headed to freedom. She showed up on her brother's doorstep with her explanation and after begging and pleading he let her stay and kept her secret. This is where she lived for most of her life. She got a job and an apartment. She met my father and married him in 1958. He died of a heart attack at the age of 46. She lived in Kentucky up until 2011 when she moved to South Carolina with us.
Since mom came to live with us we have had more time to talk and share stories. This is the best part of being a 24/7 caregiver. I am learning so much about the girl she was before she was "mom". I think this girl and I would have been great friends. Have I ever told you the story of how I skipped school one day and flew from Kentucky to Boston for the day and was back by that evening? I never got caught either! We are alot alike! Remember Appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy and deal with the rest. I love you momma!
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