Our grandfather was a constant source of support and love in our lives.
His death touched my sister Alexis and I deeply. He was a remarkable man whose contribution to our lives was nothing short of sheer dedication. Our grandfather was an educated man with a tremendous sense of social conscious, unwavering work ethic and a true quiet hero. He immigrated to the United States from Cuba seeking to provide a better life rich with opportunities for my mother and uncle. He left everything behind and sacrificed all he had known so that his children could have a future and live in a land with individual freedoms and opportunity.
He worked his entire life unselfishly for the good of others and asked nothing in return other than the company of his family. When my sister and I were very young he was our access to the world of Art, Music and Dance. He willingly surrendered all his free time to shuttle us around to and from dance lessons. He never missed an opportunity to see us perform, even when the recitals and competitions ran into long hours and our stage time was less than a few minutes; it did not deter him. He was our greatest fan and advocate, and at times when our performance was less than stellar he instilled in us the desire to respect those that were better and the perseverance to work towards achieving our goals.
He was a vital and vibrant influence in our lives and truly was worthy of a life with a dignified conclusion. Yet, for reasons we still struggle to understand his life ended tragically, slowly and painfully. It started modestly enough. He would occasionally forget where he left his car keys, he started forgetting names and addresses and his thoughts would drift in the middle of telling a story. Then one day he left our house around 5pm and never made it to his home which was 20 minutes away. It wasn’t until 3am that my parents received a call from a police sergeant in West Palm Beach. Luckily, he was unhurt but he was terribly confused. He had been driving for hours and had no idea how to get home or whom to call. He approached a police officer at a gas station advising that he was lost and he didn’t remember how to get home or his name. It was a wakeup call of the inevitable; he had to surrender his license for he was a potential danger to himself and others. My parents would now shuttle him around and he moved in with us but his health began to wane along with his mind. We tried a host of medications and treatments but many aggravated other health issues adversely he had developed and none really seemed to aid. He would often drift to situations which had occurred 25 years earlier. He once jumped off the couch and proclaimed he was late and had to leave for a meeting at the university which actually had taken place in his youth back in Cuba. We still remember him laughing at himself and his situation as he recognized that his memory was slowly eroding. Through it all he never lost his sense of humor and he only worried that he would become a burden as the sunset of his life was quickly approaching.
Over a two year period his mind and his thoughts and his ability to recognize those around abandoned him. The onset of ALZ and dementia was also taking a toll on his physical well being. His body suffered, and his organs failed. My sister and I experienced the horror of looking into his eyes and the fear that at times struck him when he recognized no one and would even ask, “Who am I”. Confined to a bed Alexis, my little brother Xander and I were the last three people he occasionally recognized and though he was unable to speak he would smile at us.
Upon his passing, we knew we had to do something to honor his life and provide hope to other families affected by ALZ. We researched and found many organizations that assist families in dealing with the disease but we wanted to be more pro-active, we wanted to help those involved in the research for a cure. Further, we recognized the need to secure funds that could be made available to the people on the front lines who were fighting for a cure. Everything in life starts with the first step and ours was as freshmen and sophomore in high school to organize bake sales. We surrendered trophies in competitions for the cash donations, we raised funds through car washes and pooling any extra funds from summer jobs. Over the last two years we have been blessed to attain the support of many that have rallied to our aid in raising awareness and promoting the basic principal, “Let’s find a cure for ALZ”.
Presently, through our involvement in Dance and the arts we are delighted at the surge of interest to join our team. From all over the world we have received praise for providing a voice to this very important cause.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease or for most other causes of dementia.
We are working everyday to continue to bring the attention and resources necessary to make a permanent impact for families everywhere.
The problem is the world’s population is aging quickly and soon many more will be at risk. Currently there are an estimated 30 million people worldwide with dementia. Seventy-Five percent of them live in developing countries. This figure is set to increase to more than 100 million people by 2050. Much of this increase will be in rapidly developing and heavily populated regions such as China, India and Latin America. Families everywhere are likely to be affected unless something is done.
So much research is being done in the fight against ALZ. We encourage you to visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to learn more about this wonderful organization and their fight to find a cure. Please help by donating. A link to their website is provided on this page.
We thank you for your time and most of all your willingness to join our fight against ALZ and dementia.
Jeanine and Alexis Mason