Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mike's Legacy

While it's easy for me to say that my children are one of Mike's most important legacies, I was touched today in the oddest of places to learn of another.
I went to my doctor for my yearly check-up (yeah 52 pounds lighter!). As I was checking out, the receptionist asked me how my husband was doing. She quickly reminded me that she had remembered our story when it appeared in Newsday. I do remember her talking to me about it right after it came out. It was the usual conversation about how shocked she was about Mike's age when diagnosed and how touched she was by the care the kids and I gave him. I made it through the sentence when I told her that Mike had passed away last February. She offered her condolences and proceeded to tell me about a friend of theirs who was just diagnosed at the age of 46! (It still amazes me to this day that not enough attention is being paid to the increase in number of people being diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer's Disease. I won't go into that here, but I will save my frustration for our annual visit to Washington DC in 2 weeks. This is when I vent to our Senators and Congresspeople).
The receptionist started to tell me about a wonderful day program this woman's husband takes her to. She said they play basketball and dance. It's geared toward younger people with Alzheimer's. Here is where I choked up.
I explained to her that this program was inspired by Mike. When Mike originally went to the regular day program at the JCC in East Hills, he did not fit in. Most patients were older, so they watched Lawrence Welk and played word games. Needless to say, Mike resisted going, and after only a short time, the program director knew something had to be done to help all the "Mikes". Fast forward a few years and Let's Do Lunch came into being. Mike's illness progressed very quickly and he was never able to take full advantage of the new program, but he was the inspiration. It comforts me to know that Mike's suffering was not in vain. Now other families can rest easy knowing their loved ones are in a day program specifically developed for them.
I am so humbled knowing that another family's life has been made a little because of Mike. He will ALWAYS be our hero.