By Judy Flook
To us, she was “Corn Pie” or “Ma Flook” – one of the best in our eyes. She was a fierce and loving daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother and grandmother. This is her dementia story.
My mom was smart, worked in a bank for seven years, and was an extremely active and fun-loving Caribbean girl who grew up in the beautiful island of Barbados from the 1920s to the 1950s. She met and married my dad and they both began their love adventure traveling all over the world.
She played tennis, netball, rode horses, and couldn’t swim but saved up and bought a little row boat so she could be around her friends. She was a lover of life, of people and of everything joyful.
When my mom was diagnosed with vascular dementia, it was so difficult to comprehend. It is still unimaginable that she didn’t get to see the many weddings, births and life events of her kids and grandkids. She was the fire in all of its complexities that made us a family, and after my dad died in his 50s and left her a widow in the prime of her life, she was determined to go on. She went back to school, got a degree in business, got a job, and kept her spirits up for us and fought to be happy. An avid athlete to the end, she so loved her morning walks, and on rainy days, she would walk up and down her stairs for 15 minutes way into her early 80s.
I inherited her passion for the outdoors. As her youngest and only daughter, I played tennis in college and am an avid runner and marathoner. I have also completed the New York City Marathon five times since she passed away in 2015, and have fundraised for the Alzheimer’s Association ever since. I have thought of her every time I have crossed that finish line; her spirit lives in my heart. This is why I am so committed to joining everyone on The Longest Day – to do all I can to fundraise for a cure for Alzheimer’s and all other dementia in honor of my feisty mom.
During the initial months of COVID-19, my family and I kept hearing how challenging it must be for families. How could they possibly be coping? It was difficult enough without a pandemic! I wondered if there was someone like me out there that just needed a lifeline, financial help and just something to allow them to take a break – to go outside and clear their thoughts. So, I decided to create a virtual race challenge, “Run 26.2 to End Alz.” Participants can walk or run 26.2 miles, ending on The Longest Day, June 20.
I am committed to helping and offering anything I can do to help others navigating this very rough time. I am with you all in spirit, and so is “Corn Pie.”
Judy Flook is participating in the fight to end Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day. Join her by registering for Run 26.2 to End Alz or donating toward her efforts on her fundraiser page. Learn more about The Longest Day at alz.org/thelongestday.