Roger Shaw misses his beloved Dora.
She barely stood 5 feet tall, but she was a giant among women in his eyes.
They were married for 62 years, but for the last eight, Alzheimer’s disease wrestled her away from him. She died two years ago and he stayed close to her until the end. He knew if the tables were reversed, she’d be there for him.
They were a couple who meant the world to each other.
That’s why Roger was at Faurot Park on Saturday at the 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. He was surrounded by 34 family members or close friends, some who were in elementary school and others who were retired. Many were dressed in T-shirts that were inscribed, “We’re doing this for Dora.”
Roger, who will turn 87 on Sept. 28, couldn’t walk the one-mile course himself, but he was proud of those who did. Some 20 teams took part, raising about $28,000 for Alzheimer’s research. They had names such as Mary’s Rita Gang, Hengstler’s Riverside Wonderers and Rhea Lou’s Crew.
Dora would have been proud to see such a turnout, Roger said.
“She was quite a lady, one of those people who always had time for people,” Roger said. “She ran the Shawnee IGA deli and people often would come in just to chat it up. There was a little boy once who had some problems with stealing. She helped straighten him out. He’s now a police lieutenant and highly thought of.”
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. It affects memory, thinking and behavior.
More is unknown about the disease than is known.
The national Alzheimer's Association says you are more likely to get Alzheimer’s if you are older, female and have a close blood relative, such as a brother, sister, or parent with Alzheimer’s. Certain genes are also linked to Alzheimer's disease. A history of high blood pressure for an extended period of time or head traumas can also increase your risk.
There is no cure.
The goals of treatment are to slow the progression of the disease, which is difficult to do, and to manage the symptoms such as behavior problems, confusion, and sleep problems.
It’s also important to support caregivers.
Roger, a former Marine, says the battle with Alzheimer’s is the toughest fight he’s faced.
“One of my best friends from the Marine Corps called me the other day. He told me I know what you were going through now. His wife has had it for two years,” Roger said.
“Dora had it bad,” Roger said. “I’m just grateful for all those wonderful years we had. We were blessed to have five children and nine grandchildren. I’m blessed to have had her.”
ROSES AND THORNS: You never know what you’ll find in the rose garden. This week it’s football, golf balls, pie and two rock bands.
Rose: To all of those football, band and cheerleading moms whose Friday night saw them sitting in the rain until thunderstorms postponed their games, then staying up that night to wash uniforms for the resumption of the contest on Saturday.
Rose: To Tim McLaren, of Lima. After retiring in 2011, he rode his bicycle 4,470 miles across the United States, going from Oregon to Virginia.
Rose: To Jo Ann Johnson, clerk of council for the village of Fort Shawnee. She wrote a letter to the newspaper letting people know that it was her mistake, and not that of council’s, that Social Security numbers were temporarily left on a document at a recent meeting. The documents were collected before people left the meeting.
Rose: To Carolyn Frysinger, of Bluffton. She plans to pass along the act of kindness she and her husband received when someone surprised them by secretly paying for their dinner — “and also a piece of pie” — at Bob Evans.
Rose: To Allen County Red Cross volunteers Bo McComas and Steve Newman, who traveled to Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana to help out with relief efforts from Hurricane Isaac.
Thorn: The golf ball bandit strikes again, this time stealing more than $2,000 worth of golf balls from the Lima Walmart store on Harding Highway. He made similar heists at a Walmart in Piqua in August and one in Wapakoneta in May.
Thorn: To Charles Lamb, 40, the driver of a tractor-trailer carrying pyrotechnic and other equipment for the rock 'n' roll bands Kiss and Mötley Crüe. He was reaching for a drink and promptly overturned the truck on Interstate 75 near Cridersville, closing the northbound lanes for nearly four hours. The bands’ concert in Detroit had to be rescheduled.
PARTING SHOT: Confidence is the feeling you have before you really understand the problem.