I learned this morning that my beautiful, amazing cousin, Carol Bagby Gregory, who is four years my senior and lived with my family during my high school years while she was attending South Dakota State University has been moved to an Alzheimer’s facility, presumably to live out the rest of her life.
Carol was a social worker who cared for those who were easily victimized.
I can’t tell you how broken-hearted I feel. Carol bubbled with life, love, energy and joy from the moment I met her. Even before she moved in with us, I remember her taking me under her wing to explore her hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota, by bus–a first for a small town girl like me.
Her college years were a revelation and transformation for me. She brought fashion, flare, perfume and girly stuff into my life. She taught me how to wear makeup. She shared her amazingly well-stocked closet freely and took me shopping to help me find my own sense of style. With her guidance, I traded in my shy, nerdy cocoon for butterfly wings and self-confidence.
One of my most vivid memories is sitting with Carol on the floor of our kitchen, a tangle of arms and legs as we peeled apart each other’s split ends. My mother looked at us and said, “You two are like a pair of monkeys picking lice off each other.” Carol and I laughed so hard we wound up rolling on the floor in tears while Mom just shook her head.
I have tears in my eyes again as I write this. I will hold this memory for as long as I can, for Carol. I will visit her in my dreams and wish her Godspeed and tell her how much she meant to me. I don’t think I did that before it was too late. #ihatealzheimers #alzheimerssucks