Daughter Walks to the Tune of Her Mother’s Fight Song

“My mother, Mary Thomas, was my idol.  She was my best friend,” begins daughter Yvonne Young of Concord, North Carolina.  “She always had this saying, ‘If death wanted to come and get her, it would have to catch up to her, and then he would have to fight her.’ She wasn’t going down without a fight.” Yvonne shares that her mother’s energy as well as her drive was constant — she was always on the go. Mary worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier in Alabama for over 35 years. Her last few years on the job; however, Mary developed kidney failure which required her to make regular trips for dialysis. Even then, Mary did not let that slow her down initially. In fact, Mary worked several more years until the frequency in trips for dialysis increased such that it made it necessary for her to retire from the post office. “Even during her dialysis, it didn’t slow her down,” adds Yvonne. “She was always a go-getter…never letting anything get her down.”

After Mary’s retirement, she and Yvonne would talk on the phone three or four times a day. “Mom always wanted to hear about my day.  She enjoyed living her life through what I, as well as my kids (her grandkids), had going on each day.” Yvonne noticed some slight changes in her mother’s memory when they began having the same conversation multiple times throughout the phone calls. She realized that her mother was quickly going downhill physically, too, as Mary began falling frequently. Her short-term memory dissipated altogether. “She could remember things from years and years ago and it became more difficult to care for her,” offers Yvonne.  Yvonne’s sister, Yolanda, helped with their mother’s care as she lived nearby.  Mary and her sister had a falling out years ago. Mary thought her daughter Yolanda was Yvonne, with whom she had the disagreement; therefore, it was even more difficult for Yolanda to care for her mother under those circumstances.  Yvonne and Yolanda’s brother Michael would come sit with their mother when he was able, but his schedule was limited due to his job as a truck driver. Mary’s verbal communication became limited, she became bed ridden and stopped eating altogether.  She passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family in January 2015.  

Yvonne shares that she didn’t know there was an Association that her family could have relied on while their mom was living with Alzheimer’s.  “It wasn’t until last year [2020] that I saw promotions about the Rowan – Cabarrus Walk.  It made me realize that I needed to do something with this to honor my mother and help where I can.” 

Yvonne and her virtual assistant business Nfinity Services LLC  is actively involved with the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce and several individuals who are involved with Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Rowan-Cabarrus are also members of the Chamber.  Yvonne jumped in with both feet this year and now serves on the Walk Committee in addition to having her own team for the Walk, Team Nfinity.  “This year has been extremely hard for me.  I  recently lost my in-laws who also suffered from Alzheimer’s, in addition to a very close family friend who was like a grandmother to me as well as my kids,” Yvonne readily admits that it has been difficult for her to bounce back from these losses.  “Every time I feel as if I’m ready to bounce back…I feel a sense of overwhelming sadness,” she sighs.  “It’s really hard to watch a person that you love fade away into a shell of themselves.  It’s really hard to see.”

From Yvonne’s perspective, research and education are the most valuable offerings that the Association provides. “When our mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we didn’t know anything about it. I’m just starting to learn more about it, and I believe others in the African American community are aware of Alzheimer’s, but they just don’t know that there is a group or organization that can help them.”  Recent studies indicate she’s correct. Findings in the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures special report reveal that non-White racial/ethnic populations expect and experience more barriers when accessing dementia care.

Yvonne looks forward to participating in her first walk this year on October 30 at Atrium Health Ballpark in Kannapolis and has been raising funds through social media outreach, family, friends and organizations through which she/her business works. “I did walk for heart disease years ago, and that day was incredible,” she says.  “The camaraderie, the sense that you’re not alone – everyone that shows up – I believe this experience will be very similar.” 

Yvonne is walking for her mother and firmly believes that she needs to do more in life and help out more in giving back to the community.   “I not only inherited my mom’s constant drive to do more and give more, but also her philosophy on sickness and death. I’m not going down without a fight.”  

LIKE YVONNE, WE ALL HAVE A REASON TO FIGHT FOR A WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Join your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s today.

The Alzheimer’s Association hosts 17 walks across North Carolina. The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association® mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s.

We’re moving forward with plans to host the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® in person this fall. We are planning every Walk with the health and safety of our constituents, staff and volunteers as our top priorities. All events will implement safety protocols including physical distancing, masks (where required), contactless registration, hand sanitizing stations and more. We will continue to closely monitor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local guidelines to ensure Walk events adhere to recommendations and are safe for attendees, as well as offer options to participate online and in your neighborhood.

2021 NORTH CAROLINA WALK DATES

Alamance County – 9.25.21
Asheville – 10.9.21
Charlotte – 10.23.21
Fayetteville – 10.30.21
Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln – 10.9.21
Guilford County – 10.16.21
Henderson County – 9.25.21
Hickory – 10.31.21
Iredell County – 9.25.21
Jacksonville – 10.16.21
Moore County – 9.25.21
Mount Airy – 9.18.21
New Bern – 10.23.21
Rowan-Cabarrus – 10.30.21
Triangle – 10.9.21
Wilmington – 11.6.21
Winston-Salem – 11.6.21

Where there’s a Walk, there’s a way.

 

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