MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Tennessee has the 4th highest rate in the country.
For those battling the disease and their families, it can be pretty difficult during certain times of the year, like Valentine’s Day.
Local 24 News spoke with a husband with a love for his wife, who has Alzheimer’s, which goes beyond time and memory.
“My favorite memory, I guess when she said I do,” said Warner Gregory.
No one can ever take away the past. That is a comfort Warner Gregory knows beats time.
“This is all I can do. I come and love her. I’m here probably five days out of the week,” said Gregory.
His wife Judy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease almost ten years ago.
“When this happened, I was angry. I said, ‘You’ve missed the mark. I was standing over here God. It was supposed to have been me,'” said Gregory.
Over the last three years, it has progressed.
“This disease seems to strike people who are creative, artistic, smart, loving. It takes all that away from them and it takes from their family, so they don’t have that anymore,” said Gregory.
It is a feeling of being robbed of a constant and familiar spirit, but left with glimpses of recognition, like last year’s Valentine’s Day.
“I walked in the room and she goes, ‘I want to kiss you,'” said Gregory. “But it went away. Just as fast as she said it, it went away.”
The moment was gone, but stays etched into Warner’s heart, beating for another warm second.
“She’s been more chatty today than she has in a while. I haven’t seen her cross her legs in quite some time and she did this today,” said Gregory. “I’ve been known to walk out the back of my apartment and just yell at God going, ‘Why.’ Like I said, I’ve turned her over to Him a long time ago and I’ve told her it’s okay to let go.”
That is because the love always stays.
“I love you,” said Warner to Judy as he kissed her.
Warner has made it his mission to be a support to the Alzheimer’s Association. This week, he went to the state capitol to advocate for a bill that would provide relief to dementia caregivers.
Warner said he is hoping for a cure, but in the meantime, he wants to be there for other families.
The Alzheimer’s Association also provides support groups and online resources to help families impacted by the disease.