Tennessee has one of the highest rates of Alzheimer's Disease in the country.
In 2020, we spoke with Warner Gregory whose wife had the disease. He went to the state capitol to advocate relief for dementia caregivers.
Local 24 News Reporter, Brittani Moncrease, caught back up with Warner as that legislation finally passed.
Time has no hold on love. It is a notion embraced by this last picture taken of Warner Gregory, his wife Judy, and daughter Kasey.
“When I was there, she was at peace,” said Warner, Alzheimer's Disease advocate.
Judy suffered from Alzheimer's Disease.
We met her and Warner February of last year at a memory care facility.
When the pandemic began, Warner could no longer visit Judy. His biggest fear was not being able to say goodbye if she passed away.
“We had a couple window visits that they would bring her to... They would wiggle her up to the door and we would go and just yell and wave, ‘Hey JuJu,’” said Warner.
That September, Judy became ill. Warner had two options: let caregivers monitor her or send her to the hospital.
“I said if you haven’t seen your loved one in the last six to nine months, what would you do? They called an ambulance. We went over to Baptist Desoto,” said Warner.
What seemed troubling was actually a blessing.
“I kind of moved the nurses out of the way, leaned in, and gave her a kiss. She turned her head and looked at me and puckered back up. I said, ‘Oh you want some sugar?’ She puckered back up,” said Warner.
A kiss that lingered for the next 24 hours when Judy was able to return to the care facility, but everything changed on January 7th.
“I got the phone call. She died at 3:30 that morning,” said Warner. “I called the kids and told them mom is gone.”
It is emptiness and grief calmed by gratitude first acknowledged by their daughter, Kasey.
“She goes, ‘Dad, God meant for this to happen….so we could see her….I believe that,” said Warner.
Warner was granted one last kiss and one last goodbye.
“We miss her,” said Warner.
These are goodbyes forever outlasting any forgotten moment.
Even though Tennessee passed new legislation to help with dementia care, Warner said he will never walk away from advocating and raising money for Alzheimer's research.