Tonight this blog is being written after a friend that reached out to me and asked me if I could write a blog. This friend is one of our much beloved DAI members, who has recently endured a very deep and personal loss.
This friend is Maria Turner, I first met Maria in 2017 and then in person in 2018 in Chicago at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Convention. The friendship started before that when I first joined DAI, and after meeting in person and working with her on things like the Brain Health Hub, getting the Living Alone Group going along with others, and watching Maria flourish as an advocate.
I received a frantic video call from Maria a few nights ago, Wednesday March 16, 2021 actually, it took about 4 or 5 attempts before the call actually connected. But in that moment before we were even connected I new something was wrong. We all have people who we zoom or video call with on a somewhat regular basis, there is others that we chat with at times over messenger or texts or whats app, Maria and I were the ones who would send each other messages of inspiration etc. via messenger or texts, but we were not the ones to traditionally do video calls with, so when the call came I knew it would be of high importance.
Maria was distraught, her little Charlie was dying, it was heart wrenching. Charlie bundled in her arms, tears streaming down her face, asking me what to do. It was difficult to be thousands of miles away, I couldn’t drop the phone and run right over. Maria like me, lives alone. Charlie has been Maria’s everything, she knew I would understand without judgement, that I would just sit with her in those very difficult moments. I wouldn’t tell her what to do, or how, I would just be there, words of comfort.
In talking to Maria tonight when she asked me if I would write a blog, she said she remembers little, other than she knew she needed to talk to me, and that at one point she remembers me saying ” Maria Charlie has his wings know”, eventually she went and sat on her bed with him in her arms and talked, I just stayed with her until she was ready to let me go and asked me to call another of our members Karen Creeky Creekmore, so Karen and I messaged back and forth and then Karen spend some time with Maria, there were others of course who were a significant part of this event as it unfolded for Maria and Charlie, David, Jerry, Jamie, Laurie, and many others I can’t recall all so please don’t be offended if your are not mentioned here, I know Maria is deeply grateful to all.
Charlie was a puppy mill dog, who ended up in the shelter and was to be put down, along came Maria, with her big heart, taking Charlie out of his cage, and ending up saving him from his plight, only to find that Maria saved Charlie, and then Charlie saved Maria in some of her dark days. The two didn’t know they needed each other, but God knew and brought them together when they needed it the most. They were inseparable, Charlie going on many adventures with Maria, her sidekick, together they made it through some challenging times, and shared much love. They truly were a gift to one another.
Charlie also shared a lot of love, with everyone he met, whether in person or on zoom calls and meetings, Charlie always brightened everyones day, and brought out the smiles in us all. Charlie and Pheobe spent time on the zooms together too, they being so similar, in all they love they provided many of us.
Charlie has been a big part of Maria’s life and the life’s of those who saw Maria and Charlie together on Zooms, at her local P2P Groups, and everywhere in between. Together they have had a big impact on many. Everyone who new Charlie felt Charlie’s love. Charlie will be forever missed by many, but none more than Maria.
Charlie and Charlie’s love of Maria will always be, Maria will be forever grateful for her little bundle of love named Charlie.
This story is important because it speaks to the value and depth of friendships formed far and wide through support groups like those of DAI, and others, and how those relationships are not superficial as some might think, they are real, they have value, they bring value to each others live’s, not just on the good days, not just at the meetings, but far reaching across the miles, through laughter and tears, through the sharing of our beloved pets like Charlie but maybe more importantly on our very hard days, we connect with people at different levels and sometimes we don’t even understand that until in a moment we know who to call and why, God answers in our times of need.
I am very grateful that Maria felt comfortable in her ability to reach out in her moment of need, I’m glad she new she would receive understanding, compassion and love for her and for Charlie.
I know all of us will keep Maria in our hearts and think of Charlie and the smiles he brought us.
RIP Charlie – I know those wings will be helping you watch over Maria.