Announcement: ANNOUNCEMENT

Our daughter Charissa, Cindy and I will hike the 2666 mile Pacific Crest Trail, starting this June 15.  This will complete the Triple Crown of long distance hiking for Cindy, the top item on her bucket list as she deals with her early onset Alzheimer’s.  In the coming months the blog posts will focus on both Alzheimer issues and the PCT adventure.

We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.  To see how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit that page.

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What Happened to Us

imageOur last day of hiking in Oregon couldn’t have met with any better conditions: sunny, little wind, gentle grades and soft footpath. We did not encounter a single blowdown during the 17 miles of hiking. Nor were there spectacular views that typically accompany difficult conditions, though we did pass a few nice lakes. The problem with this type of day is not with stress but boredom.

Under these conditions Cindy tends to get lost in her own world. Frequently on this journey she suddenly stopped, turned around and said “Oh. Hello.” My presence hiking behind her comes as a complete surprise as her mind shifts to what is happening in the present. On this particular day, after her “Oh. Hello,” I announced to Cindy that today (9/19) was our anniversary. She expressed pleasant surprise, followed by a comment that caught me a bit off guard.

“What happened to us?”

By this comment Cindy did not imply that we had grown apart. By adjusting to the present moment with the information that we’ve been married for awhile, she sincerely wanted to be brought up to speed about what happened during the course of our marriage. I started by announcing we had three kids and her response to that was: “What are their names?”

I proceeded to fill her in on “what happened:” the jobs, the friends, memorable experiences. At first I had to pause at times to keep my voice from cracking, but my narrative became easier to do. I was not providing details she could no longer remember so much as helping her transition to the moment. Her pace quickened, a sign that she was enjoying my review of our marriage. I asked at times if she remembered something and the answer usually was “yes.” I started thinking in terms of what a great strategy this will be to pass the time hiking for the remaining two months.

I arrived at the topic of family vacations; we’ve had some great ones. She remembered when the whole family hiked the Wonderland Trail, but not when we combined a family trip of whitewater rafting in Colorado and hiking at Philmont. I shifted to our work camp vacations. She remembered our Dominican Republic work camp “vacation.”

Up next was our south Appalachia work camp “vacation.” Our family made up more than half of our church group that went to Pipestem, West Virginia to help a disabled woman upgrade her bathroom from a “poop pot” to an actual working toilet. I described how appreciative Desi was of our group, particularly of our daughter Charissa using her own money to buy Desi a kitchen table for her meager house. At that point Cindy stopped and sobbed convulsively, inducing an accident to happen simultaneously.

As I attended to cleaning up the accident Cindy became calm and matter-of-fact, as she always is when I help her “use the woods.” What would mortify you or me her mind has adjusted to accept as normal.

Hmmm. Is our marriage in review a good strategy or not for preoccupying our minds? The issue, of course, is not “what happened to us?” but “what happened to Cindy?”

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This gallery contains 2 photos.

We have wrapped up Washington, at least for now, and by tomorrow we will have completed our missing pieces in Oregon. As we make our way south to resume hiking in California I am struck by the similarity between 1977 … Continue reading

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The More the Merrier

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After the Goat Rocks Wilderness Savitt and Patsy hiked with us for one more day in Washington, then we packed up the Scion with five of us and gear and headed to Cascade Locks. Their good friend Paige from Portland … Continue reading

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Of Dreams and Dreamy Days

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Cindy surprised me by rolling over to place her head on my chest and arm across my torso. She admitted she was lacking in physical affection; she used to joke about it. If an arm was draped around the other … Continue reading

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Sunny Days

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This is a “part two” post carrying over from the last one. While we were at Wally’s Drive-in eating our fish and chips, an elderly couple came into the restaurant. The bearing of the man, along with the overalls he … Continue reading

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Finding Kindness

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A sign announcing all you can eat fish and chips for $9.99 unfailingly catches the eyes of long distance hikers. We pulled in to Wally’s Drive-in to take advantage of the deal before starting the second half of our journey … Continue reading

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Getting Rest

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We are about to wrap up eight days of rest, with most of them spent here at Connie’s house. Our purpose appears fulfilled; all our illnesses seem to be gone and we feel ready to hike again with better trail … Continue reading

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Cindy’s Need for People

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Last night we dropped Charissa off at the airport where she will visit home and spend eight days with her boyfriend. I am a little apprehensive about how her absence will affect Cindy. A general rule out here as been … Continue reading

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Cindy’s Need for Hiking

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We are using this hike as a vehicle to raise awareness about exercise being the only thing shown to regenerate brain tissue. There is more to learn about this. Cindy provides some unique data in that most studies focus on … Continue reading

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