Last weekend, I participated in The Walk To End Alzheimer’s in Augusta with my father, who was diagnosed with the disease three years ago. For the first time, I didn’t feel pressure to apologize for his bizarre behavior.

Why? Because he was holding a blue flower, which is what the event uses to signify someone who has Alzheimer’s. It was refreshing to be in that environment, but while I was basking in his happiness, I began to question everything my family has been doing over the course of the last three years.

Why does he have to be holding a blue flower for others to be at ease around him? Why is daily life cloaked in shame? How is this different from any other invisible disability, disease or disorder that affects cognitive function and ultimately, behavior?

I want to tell everyone that this disease can cause someone to dance in the middle of the grocery store, sing in the doctor’s office, or even come up and talk to your children. I think that when Alzheimer’s takes this form, in contrast to manifesting in a depressing way, it should be celebrated and met with kindness, not fear.

Many thanks to every person involved in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I hope other family members and caretakers can find the solace that I did at such an eye-opening event so that we can all stop apologizing.

Laura Rivers, Farmington

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