Singer John Michael Montgomery has lyrics that read, “Life’s a dance you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.” And in the life of Louise “Wheezy” Holloway Glover, nothing could have been truer. Mother of Charlotte radio show host, Ramona Holloway, Wheezy was a local legend (now international thanks to TikTok) who danced her way through life inviting all along for the promenade.
It all started with a walk.
The McEntyre family lived in the same neighborhood as Wheezy and Ramona. Andrea and her husband John would take their toddler, Bella, for a walk down the sidewalk past of Wheezy’s front door. With Henri, her equally infamous poodle and favorite child, in tow, Wheezy became a welcomed stop along their trip. Then about the age Bella was learning to read, Girls Night In began. From tea parties to having Bella read aloud to teaching her a little Spanish and French, Wheezy, a career educator opened up her home and the world Bella knew. Ramona and Andrea were quick to point out that the both realized early on this time was solely for Wheezy, Henri and their budding best friend, Bella.
“I feel like Wheezy believed that she was the surrogate mom that Andrea needed, and the surrogate grandma that Bella needed,” said Ramona. “But actually, it was the other way around. Mom needed to mother and teach, and these two showed up ready to love and learn.”
Surrogates they became. As the McEntyre family was working as a village to care for Bella’s only living grandmother who was living with dementia, Wheezy lovingly inserted herself into Bella’s life to help fill the void left by the diminishing health of her own grandmother. She accompanied Bella on Grandparents Day and attended swim meet and school events.
Andrea shared, “We embraced every bit of the love that she gave. That’s what she needed to give, and what were in desperate need to receive.”
In 2017, Bella’s grandmother started exhibiting signs of dementia. She became familiar with these signs through her weekly visits with grandmother. “And then in 2019 she passed,” Bella, now 14 years old, recalls. “And ever since then I can notice the signs pretty easily, especially with Ms. Wheezy and with other people as well. I noticed it a little before she was diagnosed with it [Alzheimer’s] because I could tell that she was looking at me weird if I said something that she probably didn’t remember, or if she needed me to repeat something a couple times before she fully comprehended it.”
Bella and Andrea would share things they noticed along the way with Ramona as Wheezy’s condition became apparent “that she was grabbing words when words were here best friend.”
Ramona remarked, “In the beginning Bella was learning how to read and she would read aloud to mom and then you saw it change where it wasn’t just mom giving Bella an opportunity…It became Bella reintroducing words to mom because mom couldn’t read like she used to. And so it morphed into this thing where the student really did become the teacher.”
Finding a dance partner.
Bella wasn’t the only friend Wheezy made many years her junior. But no one would dare have told her there was that much difference in age, but that’s a story for another day. A few doors down from Ramona and Wheezy was Jani Divers, grandmother to Eloise Michael, who affectionately became known by the same namesake, “Queen Wheezy.” Now nine years old, Eloise also met Wheezy as a toddler herself. “The Wheezys” (Eloise and Ramona’s mom) would have dance parties in the middle of the street…on the porch. They had their own move, and referred to themselves as the Wheezy Squad. And as Eloise so perfectly said in their TikTok video with more than 37K views, their friendship is based on “love.”
They became extended family and in turn, extended eyes and ears for Ramona. When there was an incident where her mom fell on the sidewalk or when Wheezy refused to go to her adult daycare, Jani sat with her until Ramona could get home from work.
This empathy stemmed from Jani’s own father, a World War II veteran and U.S. History teacher, who lived with Alzheimer’s in the mid-1980s. This is when Jani saw the love a child can show someone living with dementia. Jani’s daughter (Eloise’s mother), Autumn was her father’s “person.” Jani recalled, “She just had a calmness about her and she would just take him and walk with him a little bit, and now they piddle around the house, and she just could bring him back to where he was supposed to be.”
Jani and Queen Wheezy reminisced about how Wheezy never missed a birthday. She would be the last one in the door [because her “chauffeur” (aka Ramona) kept a full schedule]. The Wheezys would see each other across the room, and they would run to each other with their arms held out open wide and run into each other’s arms.
“It’s just going to break my heart when another birthday rolls around, and she’s not there for them to run into each other’s arms,” Jani tearfully reveals.
The beautiful relationship that grew for both families with Wheezy was born out of the fact that she was created to love and nurture children, just as she had done her entire life. So to all who knew her, it makes perfect sense that her best friends were individuals that were generations apart from her, and it didn’t matter one iota.
And now her friends are helping pay honor to her by helping Ramona out as youth marketing committee members for a very special event Ramona is planning.
Wheezy’s passing in August of 2021 that was felt by the entire community who had grown to know and love her as a regular guest on the airwaves and through their dementia journey Ramona so bravely shared. What started many years before to bring together all ages and support local charities, Ramona, a new board member for the Alzheimer’s Association in North Carolina, decided to dedicate her Family Dance Party to the work being done to support families like hers. Through this the 2022 event became a part of the Association’s The Longest Day campaign, where individuals are encouraged to use their creativity in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
Hear more why you should come with your family. Queen Wheezy says she’s already gearing up to show everyone how it is done on the dance floor. And Bella is looking forward to cutting a rug in her best friend’s memory. Check out her overview on the all the fun planned.
Family Dance Party CLT will be the most fun parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the kids they love can have on a Saturday afternoon!
JUNE 11 | 1:00-5:00 PM
SYMPHONY PARK | CHARLOTTE
Proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day campaign. Ramona Holloway from MIX 107.9 in Charlotte created this event both to provide parents and children with a fun opportunity to support families affected by dementia and to give children who want to help others a chance to learn more about using their time and talents to support charity.
Presented by Jamison Realty and Ally Financial, the event will feature DJ Arroe Collins from LA Productions, multiple dance contests, games, and snacks! Ramona will host a series of contests throughout the event – including prizes for the winners. The dance contests must consist of at least one child and one adult family member.
Want to come dance? Buy your tickets today!
LIKE RAMONA, BELLA & ELOISE, WE ALL HAVE A REASON TO FIGHT FOR A WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Simple plans up to big ideas – Start planning your own The Longest Day Fundraiser today.
The day with the most light is the day we fight! Leading up to and culminating on The Longest Day – the summer solstice, thousands of participants from across the world will come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through an activity of their choice. Together, they will use their creativity and passion to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association®. Whether participating at home, online or in-person, we have plenty of fun ideas to engage family and friends in The Longest Day.