The Longest Goodbye

Duquesne Memories and The Longest Goodbye

As I have written so many times before, I receive such joy and satisfaction from sharing memories of the Duquesne of my childhood with all of you. To receive your comments and personal recollections affirms just how much the city meant to all of us. As long as I am able, I will continue to “shoot the breeze” with all of you and provide you with reminiscences of life in our hometown.

I created this blog on November 29, 2010, almost 4 years ago. I am so honored that you allLibrary 1 embraced the blog, your part in it and have been faithful readers. I suppose that the most logical reason that Duquesne Hunky has been embraced is that we ALL love to remember. What is more comforting and gratifying that being able to share those special memories with friends and former neighbors and classmates. We remember all of the special times and special people because…we can.

I have a very specific agenda for this post, and I hope that you all will take a few minutes to read the entire post to digest and act upon its message.

As much as I enjoy and love writing my blog, I dread writing this particular entry. That dread exists for two reasons. First, I have a fear that I might upset or alienate someone reading this piece due to what I’m asking. In the past 4 years, I have only taken this risk one other time. You were all more than gracious, and very understanding. The second and most upsetting reason I dread writing this post is due to the fact that there is still an urgent need TO write it, as the importance of continuing research has not diminished.

Last year, I reached out to all of you to step forward and step up in support of a cure for a very real, and very dreaded disease. It affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages, including an estimated 5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals younger than age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. Over 36 million people are affected world-wide.

Faces of Alzheimer's

  • Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • There approximately 500,000 deaths each year due to Alzheimer’s.
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia related illness.
  • Almost two-thirds of American seniors living with Alzheimer’s are women. Of the 5 million people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s in the United States, 3.2 million are women and 1.8 million are men.
  • The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will escalate rapidly in coming years as the baby boom generation ages. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease. 

This year, as a result of your generosity last year, I have been asked to step-up and serve as the co-chairman of the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I gladly accepted the request and hope and pray that the fund-raising effort is successful again this year, and that we can top the $15,000 mark in honor of Duquesne Memories and all of those who were the very foundation of our lives.

040111.01TearoffSheetMy participation last year was in honor of my 4 family members who battled Alzheimer’s disease. This year, I am working in honor of all of my Duquesne friends, former classmates and the entire population of Duquesne, past and present. Although I know of a few people from Duquesne who have suffered from the disease, I am sure that there are many, many more. This is for all of the Duquesne Memories! 

In the past weeks, I have heard and seen an incredible outpouring of support to raise awareness and much needed research money for the devastating disease, ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and is a neurodegenerative disease.

People throughout the Duquesne and West Mifflin area have been accepting the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in honor of Father Dennis, the beloved pastor of Christ the Light of the World Parish in Duquesne including Holy Name, Saint Joseph’s and St. Hedwig’s. Fr. Dennis, who has been diagnosed with ALS, is a pillar of strength as he faces and fights his disease head-on with every fiber within him. The support from the parishioners of his parish as well as the vast circle of family, friends and supports that surround has been enormous, and inspirational. From the recent Ice Bucket Challenge between Fr. Dennis and Bishop Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh to the very recent Walk for ALS that was held in Pittsburgh, it is VERY evident that the people of Duquesne and surrounding areas have a VERY generous, compassionate, concerned and determined spirit. Their efforts raised over $65,000 for ALS research and placed them as the #1 Team in Western Pennsylvania.

On a personal note, last year I shared news with all of you about my Aunt Peggy. She is my father’s youngest sister, and my oldest living relative, having turned 88 in April of this year. Sadly, she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Aunt Peg, along with two of her siblings, Aunt Helen and Uncle Joe, were tested to access their susceptibility to the disease. At that time it was determined that she, along with at least two other siblings, had already acquired the disease. None of them, at the time of the tests, were displaying any overt symptoms, but all began taking medication that would slow down the progression of the disease.

It was less than a year after the test results that my Aunt Helen and Uncle Joe began presenting symptoms. By the end of the second year following the tests, both had been taken to health care facilities that provided 24 hour care and treatment for the disease. Sadly, my Uncle Joe died shortly after beginning his stay at the home, and Aunt Helen died the following year, both from complications of Alzheimer’s.

Aunt Peggy began to present symptoms of the disease about eighteen months ago. Fortunately, as a result of her physician’s care and her medication, Aunt Peggy is still able to live independently. Her family is keeping a very watchful eye on her. They understand that an assisted-living facility will likely be in her future, but for now, she continues to do well enough to maintain her own apartment.

If you are able to help, please do the following:

  1. Click on the following link: http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2014/MD-GreaterMaryland?team_id=229354&pg=team&fr_id=5161
  2. You will now be connected to our walk page. Click the green box that reads: DONATE TO MY TEAM.
  3. You will now be connected to the contribution page. You can choose your level of donation from the list provided or enter the amount wish. I have started the ball rolling with an initial donation. Please be as generous as possible. The need is so great.The rest of the form in self-explanatory. You will be able to make your contribution with any major credit card or debit card AND also dedicate the donation on behalf of a special person.
  4. To finalize your donation, just press COMPLETE DONATION at the end of the form.

I hope you will consider contributing to this walk. Since this blog is totally about the memories of our youth and the town we love, help to preserve those memories for everyone by helping to eliminate the disease that robs our seniors of those very recollections.

Recently, Fr. Dennis shared the following thoughts with his parish in their Sunday bulletin. I thought it so inspirational, I wanted to share it with you as I end this post………

Promise Yourself:

  • To be so strong that nothing can destroy your peace of mind.
  • To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something special about them.
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
  • To think only the best, to work only the best, to expect only the best.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. To forget the mistakes of the past and to press on to greater achievements of the future.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living person you meet a smile.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

 

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2 Responses to The Longest Goodbye

  1. Lynne Ann Brewer Shalata says:

    Thank you for your blog…I am from McKeesport but none the less………….it is wonderful to communicate …….I now live in Wyoming (theState)…….my Dad had Alzheimer’s for over 8 years …actually began two years before that but not real noticable….it is a horrid disease. So is ALS…my husband’s step Dadsuffered from that one…..all these diseases are awful. Cancer, Parkinsons, and all the others, too. Thank you for bringing up the topic. We here in Rock Springs Wyoming are having a fund raiser for it and ALS in the next two weeks. I am glad it is getting more attention nation wide for us all to help out to find cures for these diseases. Have a great week and thanks for the Duquesne Hunky!!!! Love it!

  2. kmazel@comcast.net says:

    Hi Jim,   First, I’d like to thank you for all the work you have done to keep us informed about all that is happeninng in the city of Duquesne and the many memories that you have.  I’m sure that it takes up a lot of your time and so many of us really appreciate it.   I made a $35 donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.  My mom passed away 2 years ago after battling the disease for 7 years.  As you know, it is extremely hard on the families.  I wish you well with your family.   Thanks again, Jim and best wishes to you!   Sincerely,   Kim Wright Mazel Class of ’75  

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