Why I Will Walk to End Alzheimer's
Each September, World Alzheimer’s Month is your chance to join the global fight against Alzheimer’s disease. There are more than 35 million people worldwide living with dementia and more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia. “Go Purple” on Friday, September 21st to mark Alzheimer's Action Day.
Maria Shriver’s courageous work has inspired me to stand up and walk to end Alzheimer’s disease.
After having lost her father to Alzheimer’s, Maria has continued to work tirelessly for millions of people worldwide whose lives have been impacted by the disease. She brings hope and awareness to families facing this great challenge.
My mother, Cecy, recently passed away after braving the rough seas of Alzheimer’s for twelve years. I find that I am at a loss for what to do next now that this all-consuming journey has come to an end.
This is a time of great reflection for me.
Barnacles shining on slippery rocks,
I step barefoot upon the weeds.
Tidal pools warm with bugs,
Walking their watery film.
Periwinkles, half emerged,
Looking to cling,
To ride out the waves.
Tweedy green rope
Caught between the shelves,
I see the tumble of water
Cast me out
To the farthest bell.
Let me lie there
Quietly with the seals.
I want to heal
To it’s rhythmic gong.
Over the past nine years, I wrote a series of poems bearing witness to Mom’s struggle in an effort to understand and find peace.
I arranged twenty-nine poems chronologically and paired them with artwork contributed by family artists to create, Searching For Cecy: Reflections On Alzheimer’s.
Writing this book was a way for me to mourn the gradual, steady loss of my beloved mother while she was still here.
Cecy lived in Maine and I live in Los Angeles. Being a long-distance carepartner was very challenging for me. Writing these poems helped me to feel closer and more connected to Mom when she was so far away.
This form of self-expression gave me the courage to participate in a journey that seemed entirely out of my control.
I’m trying to walk
A familiar path
I can’t remember
How it was
I sink my heels
Into the sand
Searching the sea
A dolphin arcs
I feel stiff
Out of rhythm
With these waves
Begging for a clue
Thump of waves
Who I am
The sudden death of Cecy three months ago sent me into an unanticipated tailspin. I had hoped that all the writing I’d done over the years had somehow prepared me to lose her.
I realize now that nothing could have prepared me for the finality of this loss, regardless of how inevitable or expected her death may have been.
I wear a cape as I walk down the street,
A lovely large cape that goes down to my feet.
I fasten it carefully beneath my chin,
The wind is so furious and I am so thin.
Well, that is the story I’m willing to tell.
The truth is quite different. I’m not little Nell.
There’s a hole here, you see, the size of a pie plate,
Beneath my left shoulder. Yes, this is my fate.
The wind whistles through me in the key of plain C.
I’ve tried humming and singing and slapping my knee.
Nothing will stop this loud hullaballoo.
I think if you heard it you’d wear a cape too.
The hole can’t be filled in, no matter the angle.
Mud is too heavy and yarn, just a tangle.
Been empty a while now, I can’t say just when.
I’ve kicked out two sparrows, a mouse, and a wren.
This hole is my lot and I’m sure you’ll agree,
The cape offers solace for kazoo playing me.
I’m open to any new options you hear of.
The quickest of fixes are ones I steer clear of.
The truth is, a part of me’s out on vacation.
To see her again would be cause for elation.
I dream that she knows me and utters my name.
To achieve this small feat would end this whole game.
The hole would fill in. It would be a fine day.
I’d hang up my cape, try to dress a new way.
But for now, I’ll keep whistling and searching the sky
For a sign that all’s well, that there’s no need to cry.
I’ll walk, run, and stumble until I learn why
The tune that I’m playing can’t fathom, “goodbye.”
I anticipated that, after Mom passed away, I might lose the will to fight for a better life for those still wrestling with Alzheimer’s disease. I realize now that there is always more to do.
I have experienced an exhausting, yet beautiful journey these past twelve years and have met many courageous and inspiring people along the way. I would like to use this experience to help others navigate the rough seas of Alzheimer’s.
I intend to honor Cecy’s strength and grace by continuing to work for a cure. I will walk on September 22nd for Mom, for Aunt Nina, who passed away last month, and for all who continue to hold hope in their hearts that we might find the answers we are looking for.
I am very grateful to Maria Shriver for her fine example and for believing in the power of community. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!
Please join our fundraising team, Searching For Cecy, and help us Walk To End Alzheimer’s.
Check out Judy Prescott's book, Searching for Cecy: Reflection on Alzheimer's. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of book goes to the Alzheimer's Association, Maine Chapter.
Judy Prescott, born in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, has spent the past twenty-five years working as a professional actress. Based in both New York City and Los Angeles, she has performed many roles on stage and screen. Her most recent work includes episodes of True Blood, Grey’s Anatomy, Cold Case, Bones, and the films Islander and Hit and Runway. Judy started writing poems as a child in order to better understand the world around her. She began reading her poetry publicly fifteen years ago in Los Angeles where she currently lives with her husband and daughter. Judy is the author of Searching for Cecy: Reflections on Alzheimer’s.