My name is Rene Tamayo and today I am walking for my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2008.
I am charting a course (6 p.m.-10 p.m.) that will take me by quite a few of the special places that my mom and I enjoyed hanging out when she was able to. I am starting today at our family home in Brownsville, Texas, the place where I was born and I have so many fond memories of laughing and having so much fun with her. She was a great fan of Nat King Cole and I remember very vividly watching her get dressed to go out with my dad to a dance or a cocktail reception and how happy she was. It made me so happy. I just put on her favorite song: “Adelita.” My mom’s name is Adelaida Tamayo, so it is no surprise that this was her favorite song.
Next on my journey, I will make stops at our church and give thanks for my mom and everything that she gave to me, then it will be on to my junior and senior high schools, where, until I was able to drive a car, she took me to school every morning, picked me up for lunch and made sure that I always had a ride home from my late tennis lessons. From there, I will make my way to the Camille Playhouse where I did my first community theater production. My mom was such a supporter of me as a performer. She encouraged me to be who I was and always be the best I could. I truly love her for that.
Next I will visit my dad’s grave site. My dad passed away in 2009 and he was truly the best father and husband in the whole world. There was no one who loved my mother more than he did. I remember when the Alzheimer’s was really affecting my Mom, he never wavered in his care of her; putting up with everything that comes with this horrible disease. The night my dad passed away, I was home visiting and for some reason, I knew something was going to happen that night and it did. I was happy to be there because I know that my father was passing the torch to me and I was ready and willing to accept it.
As I near the end of my journey, I will reach my mom’s nursing home. It will be late when I arrive but I will wake her and spend some precious time with her. I will let her know who I am and what I am doing. I will hold her hand and tell her that I love her. I know that she will tell me stories of how she is tired since she went out dancing very late that night and I will play along with her as I always do. I will ask her questions about what she wore and who she danced with and it will be so nice to just sit and be with her. I’ve learned that embracing her reality allows me to focus on the love that I will always have for her.
From there, I will head home and finish off by playing my piano at home until 10 p.m. My mother bought me my first piano and she was always my biggest fan. She always accompanied me to all of my concerts and recitals and always was there to encourage me. I will play and sing in her honor. And lastly, I will light a lantern in honor of her and let it go to signify her greatness and the beauty she will always represent to me.