Learning with each other
Donna Rago has always been a caretaker. Whether it be taking care of her ailing aunt or raising her 3 boys or hosting 60 members of her extended family for Easter…Donna had it covered. So it has been a hard transitioning into letting others take care of her. Donna was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year.
Donna remembers the first time she knew something was wrong. It was during one of their annual Easter family gatherings and she was walking in from the garage with a plate of food. She looked down at her plate and had no longer had any idea what she was doing.
One of the hardest things for Donna to accept is that she can’t cook like she used to. Following directions is hard for her now and she can’t recall all the recipes she had committed to memory. Donna describes this loss like “having a beautiful garden that someone threw something on and killed everything.”
Donna’s condition is a challenge for Tony too. She is his best friend. She helped him through his battle with colon cancer a few years ago, and he wants to be there for her in the same way. They’ve been married for 44 years; Tony says it was love at first sight for him…indeed, they were married after a 5 month courtship. Donna giggles and chips in, “He proposed in early February and we were married in late February. We had to move up the wedding day because I was pregnant with our first son.”
Donna and Tony are still learning how to adjust with Donna’s condition. They travel less than they used to, and now a daughter-in-law hosts the annual Easter gathering. Donna feels fortunate that she has such a loving and supportive family who all live in the Bay Area, but it also makes the diagnosis that much more devastating for her. She tears up when she talks about it, saying: “I just don’t want to miss anything!”
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