Can we all agree? Alzheimer’s sucks.

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.

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


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About Debra Salonen

From award-winning journalist to nationally bestselling author with 26 published novels for Harlequin's Superromance and American lines, Debra Salonen brings humor and heart to her stories. She was named Romantic Times Reviewer's Career Achievement "Series Storyteller of the Year" in 2006. Her popular Indie release, Are We There Yet, has been called "laugh-out-loud funny, poignant and just plain fabulous!" Cowgirl Come Home, her newest release for Tule Publishing, is a full-length novel set in Montana.

7 thoughts on “Can we all agree? Alzheimer’s sucks.

  1. so sorry that she is living with Alzheimer disease…i know how devastating it can be. i always remember when my Mom came home from visiting her Mother in another state and the sorrow my Mom felt because her Mother didn’t recognize her anymore…prayers & hugs for you both…

  2. I am so sorry to hear, Deb. You are in my heart and thoughts always. Keep those cherished memories close. How wonderful to have had such a role model in your teen years!! Keeping your cousin in my thiughts as well. You’re right-Alzheimer’s sucks!!

  3. Such a nasty disease. I think it is harder on family and friends, as we try to remember what they use to be. Most people who are victims of this disease are happy go lucky. Wishing you and your family the best

  4. Thanks, my friends.

    The last time we talked, she did a great job of faking it. I realize that now. But it seemed to advance very rapidly, which from research isn’t unusual in younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

    The sadness is ours, for sure. I just hope she’s not experiencing any panic or fear of not knowing where she is or who she is.


  5. Deb,

    I am so sorry to hear about your cousin. Alzheimer’s is such a vicious disease. It took my gram. The disease robbed her of so many things. I was close with her, as she was only 38 when I was born. I have so many great memories of her and for that I am very thankful. I know that you will treasure the memories you have with your cousin. I will keep her and you and your family in thought and prayers. Hugs.

  6. Thank you, Kimberly dear.

    How lucky you were to have a youthful grandma and how heartbreaking to lose her too young and miss out on more memories because of this disease. I’m very fortunate that all of my memories of Carol are great. Because of our strong bond, we could go for years without seeing each other when we were both busy with careers and kids, then pick up as if no time had passed when we saw each other. I miss her already because there won’t be another time like that for us. Appreciate your kindness and support. Hugs back.

  7. Alzheimers is a terrible disease as we both know. I’m just sorry that another person is being lost from it. I didn’t know Carol, but I can see you were very close to her and that makes me sad for you Deb. Just know that I know your sorrow. Prayers for Carol and for you my cousin.

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