Friday, May 9, 2008

Tribute to my Mother-In-Law

LaVern (Holly) Hollister Shriver Benike (1918 – 2009)

My mother-in-law died last night. For some people, losing one’s mother-in-law would be an event to cheer. But not for me. I loved my second mom. In the 33 years I knew her, we never had an argument; I’m pretty sure we didn’t have any disagreements. We did, however, share a lot of laughs.
And toast. We both loved toast. I think I became an acceptable son-in-law the moment she learned of my fondness for toast. She was a supportive, encouraging, dignified, fun-loving, cherished part of our family. She would have been 91 next week.
During the last two years she suffered from dementia. It may have been the result of a fall when she hurt her head, but it may also have been the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. She exhibited significant dementia at various times. She was often tormented by imaginary people who “took” her things from her little room at the assisted living home, who crawled into her bed, and who generally made parts of her day a walking nightmare. It’s ironic, really. She was a registered nurse for much of her life, and in the early part of her career in the 1930s, she was a private duty nurse for a wealthy gentleman who could afford personal care. She provided the kind of care she would later come to depend on.
I am grateful that she is in a better place now. But according to the Alzheimer’s Association (one of the charities supported by TisBest), there are more than 5 million Americans living with this disease right now. And many of them are suffering just as my mother-in-law suffered.
I’m pleased that TisBest supports the Alzheimer’s Association. The Association funds important research into a disease that, as of yet, has no cure.
I encourage you to visit the Association’s website to learn more about this disease, the progress that is being made in important research programs, and the many ways you can help the people who suffer from it.

Jon Siegel, Executive Director
TisBest Philanthropy