Hold Grandma’s Hand: Cherish The Matriarch

A matriarch is defined as “a woman who is the head of a family or tribe.”

Matriarchs are a powerful component within the family unit. Thanksgiving Day 2019 was mainly spent with my grandmother, Eartha Lee Gallon in Tallahassee, Florida. The cold November day was peaceful and she appeared to be in a harmonious state. As I entered the room and gently called her name, “Grandmaaaa,” I was greeted by a huge smile. That made my entire year. Living in New York is my toughest battle, especially the fact that I’m unable to have consistent access to my grandmother on a daily basis. She is a strong Queen and continues to smile despite her battle Alzheimer’s Disease, this is inspiring to see her strength.

Honestly, I’m grateful that she still recalls my name. Actually, she still recalls a-lot of things. As I made myself comfortable laying next to her in the bed, talking with her about Thanksgiving of the past, she smiled and sometimes she nodded with a yes, to the things she remembers. Sometimes she said no when certain things didn’t come to her recollection. As we sat and watched Family Feud together, she seemed indifferent when the commercials came on. But she shocked me. Out of no where, she said, “Bosley.” She was actually reading the Bosley commercial on television. I said, “Grandma, you can still read that,” and she replied with a gentle nod, “Yes.” We continued reflecting on the memories we recreated as a child during the holiday season. Every holiday before now, all of her children, my Uncle “Rabbit”, Uncle Andrew, Auntie Linda, my dad Darryl, and my favorite Uncle Jeffery met in Crawfordville, Fl on Gays Drive to create new memories, catch up new events, and to be around our matriarch. Things have changed but the memories we created are etched in my mind for a lifetime.

My grandmother taught me everything from cooking, grooming myself, gardening, fishing, driving, praying, and so much more. Her powerful wisdom and passion for having her own help mold me into the Queen and Doctor I am today. I watched her work day and night as a Certified Nursing Assistant to pay off her house. She never allowed us to miss a meal no matter how hard it was for her to come up with the money. From one generation to the next, it’s important we uphold our matriarch in the highest of light because tomorrow is never promised, even if it seem like the least expected will never come. As I held my grandmother’s hand, it reminded me of the fight she put up to make sure my sister and I were able to continue thriving after the loss of our mother in 1994. I never once doubted my grandmother’s love. I want to keep building memories with her and cherish each second of breathe she takes. One day I woke up and my mother was gone, I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. I was too young to have memories. As my grandmother ages I take it upon myself to give her flowers while she is still here. And for other families living and loving relatives with Alzheimer’s please stay strong.

Dr. Shon TV

Here are 9 facts you should know about Alzheimers Disease:

  1. Definition: A progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions
  2. Half of adults aged 85 and older have the disease
  3. More women live with the disease, this could be in part because women live longer than men
  4. Heart disease can raise your risk of getting Alzheimer’s Disease aka AD
  5. Education can lower your risk of developing AD. Participation in activities such as learning a new language, playing musical instruments, or taking classes helps decrease risk factors.
  6. AD is the only one of the top 10 causes of death without any means of preventing, curing or slowing down.
  7. AD is linked with a loss of smell
  8. BETWEEN 2000 AND 2017 DEATHS FROM HEART DISEASE HAVE DECREASED 9% WHILE DEATHS FROM ALZHEIMER’S HAVE INCREASED 145%.
  9. Older African-Americans are nearly twice as likely to battle Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.

Life is too short Kings and Queens.

The seasons are changing, we are headed to a new decade. Let’s make a vow to give flowers while you can still hold grandma’s hand. Let’s make a vow to cherish memories that may not return tomorrow. Thank you to my granny for being the best to ever do it. Loving me when you didn’t have to. Raising and fighting for me. Thank you Eartha Lee! I love you the most!!!

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