As you know, I usually write about religion but this time I want to get personal. You see, I know this amazing woman who served her country in the United States Air Force while raising four children. People say she was so good at sales that she could have sold a freezer to an Eskimo. Her name is Joelyn (pronounced JO-LEEN), and she is my mother-in-law.
She has the name Joelyn because her mother heard the name “Jolene” and liked it but, she was Swedish and didn't know how it was spelled, so she did it phonetically. When Joelyn questioned why her name is spelled the way it is, her Mother told her to just be happy she spelled it with a "J" instead of a "Y."
I remember finding it neat that her Birthday is 1-2-34, and the family joke is that her social security number is 3, right after God and George Burns. People still seem to find that interesting.
Joelyn has always been an opinionated woman. She doesn't sugarcoat things, and to me, that is exactly the way to be.
So, why am I writing about her? Well, I'm not really. You see, Joelyn has the nastiest condition I can think of that takes away who a person is, and It totally changes that family in every way. It is devastating to all and worse for the one who has it. I have lost family members to cancer and heart disease, but this is worse than those because along with everything else, it takes their memories and their mind. Joelyn has Alzheimer's disease, and it is in the advanced stage. I have been very fortunate to have the chance to know her how she was and how she is. I see how this disease has robbed the family of a vibrant woman, and I see how it has robbed her of totally being herself.
I look at her today and still see moments of clarity. I see her interact with her grandsons-- she does know who they are, even if she can't acknowledge them all the time. I still see a little stubbornness in her, and that is a good thing. She was diagnosed in 2003 and was given three to seven years to live. Here she is, still with us, fourteen years later, and I believe her stubbornness had something to do with that. As you can see in the photo for this article, Joelyn still smiles at times. I love her smile; I love HER.
Anyone who has known somebody with this disease knows the struggle families go through, financially and otherwise. My sister-in-law promised her father that she would not put Joelyn in a nursing home; He died because of one. It shook things up a lot but, she is worth it. No one deserves Alzheimer's. It is like watching someone slowly fade away. Mom, I love you and always will.
Although it is hard to see her like this, I am still thankful for every day I get with her. God saw it fit to let me know her and I am thankful for that. God bless you, the reader, and God bless Joelyn.