Susan and Boyd Wylie at home in Langley.

Susan and Boyd Wylie at home in Langley.

Walking for Memories: Alzheimer’s Society

This year's Investors Group Walk for Memories is dedicated to Susan and Boyd Wylie.

This year’s Investors Group Walk for Memories is dedicated to Susan and Boyd Wylie.

Susan and Boyd Wylie, married since 1978, have both experienced the loss of their mothers to Alzheimer’s disease.

Susan grew up in North Vancouver with a younger brother and parents that encouraged her to use her imagination and to have a sense of humour. Boyd grew up in Richmond with an older sister and had a wonderful childhood making and floating rafts. Both Susan and Boyd would like to claim their parents as the best in the world.

Boyd first connected with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. in 2008 for information to better understand his mother’s diagnosis. He and Susan later became founding members of an adult kids’ support group in Langley. They both credit attending support groups as allowing them to learn more about the disease and to process their feelings.

Both Susan and Boyd have extensive knowledge of dementia and provide endless empathy and support to others whose lives are impacted by dementia. They also volunteer at numerous local events by distributing information.

Join Langley, Aldergrove and Abbotsford in honouring Susan and Boyd Wylie and others impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias at the 2015 Investors Group Walk for Memories.

Let’s get walking, Langley, Aldergrove and Abbotsford.

See website: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/LocationHome.aspx?eventid=146206&langpref=en-CA&locationID=146226&Referrer=http%3a%2f%2fwalkformemories.com%2flocations%2f

Boyd Wylie with his late mother, Audrey (submitted photo courtesy of Boyd Wylie).

HELPING FAMILIES GET ‘THROUGH TO OTHER SIDE” OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

The first quality that stands out about Susan and Boyd Wylie is their sense of humour — their readiness to enjoy life, and to smile.

You can only wonder at how they manage to laugh at all.

Both have lost mothers to the ravages of dementia: Boydʼs mom, Audrey Wylie, to Alzheimerʼs, and Susanʼs mother, Joyce Richards, to the vascular form of the disease. Boyd, a single child, and Susan, with a brother and an aging father, were key caregivers as their momsʼ health declined.

On top of this, Boyd discovered he had cancer. Five tumors, including one on his kidney. He was diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition that raises your chances of various cancers. He has non-Hodgkinʼs lymphoma. The clinical descriptions donʼt begin to describe how this burst-pipe of knowledge can effect a person and their loved ones.

But the now-retired B.C. Tel/Telus employee (36 years of service, the last 11 in Langley) isnʼt letting his health impede his quality of life, or his willingness to step forward in support of others. Boyd and Susan, a retired former manager and administrator with government and in the private sector, are honorees of the next Langley-Aldergrove-Abbotsford Walk for Memories, set for Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, at the Aldergrove Athletic Park.

Jan. 25 is especially significant for Susan, because it will be the third anniversary of her motherʼs death at age 81.

“Her body broke down,” Susan says simply of the tortured months the family endured.

Boydʼs mother was cared for at Langley Gardens up to her death in March 2013 at age 93. Boyd suffered the non-uncommon stings of Alzheimer patientsʼ offspring, including a great deal of anger aimed directly at him by a woman previously known for her mild, courteous manner.

So together the Wylies turned to the Alzheimer of B.C. “So many people donʼt want to ask for help,” says Susan.

They were welcomed into whatʼs known as an adult kidsʼ support group — for people with parents suffering from dementia, including those sandwiched between parents and children.

“When loved ones die, people tend to leave these groups,” says Boyd.

However, “a couple of people asked us to stay,” says Susan, so they remained to facilitate support groups.

“Weʼre there for people to talk to, to support them, and to add humour to their lives.”

As with so many things in life, someone has to have “been there” to experience and understand it. Susan and Boyd try to reassure families they “can get through to the other side,” since they managed to do so.

And today, thanks to ongoing work by the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and through widespread public debate, dementia is no longer stigmatized. Audrey Wylie died without the support of her old friends, who didnʼt understand her predicament and never reached out to her or to Boyd.

The Investors Group-sponsored Walks for Memories take place around B.C. each year on the last Sunday of January, Alzheimer Awareness Month. Organizers of the Langley-Aldergrove-Abbotsford event describe it as a “community group hug” for dementia sufferers and their caregivers. Rain or shine (there are some tents and Rotary Field House for shelter), supporters come to the Aldergrove park to draw attention to the need for more research into dementia, for more facilities and support for caregivers, and of course for the money to achieve those aims.

There will be music, food and entertainment, as well as dementia information and resources. The park is wheelchair- and pet-friendly (dogs must be on leashes), and walkers (no set distances) are encouraged to form fundraising teams. Registration may be done and donations made on the day of the event (doors to Rotary Field House open at noon, official event opening at 1 p.m.), but everyone with access to a computer or a smart phone is strongly encouraged to register online, via walkformemories.com (itʼs important to scroll down to the “Langley, Aldergrove & Abbotsford” link).

This year, the path around the parkʼs southwest quadrant will host a walkway of memories: pictures of dementia sufferers and words and poems about them. If you would like someone you know to be remembered in this way, please submit your photos and words in person or by mail to Investors Group’s Langley office (100 — 8837 201st St., V2Y 0C8, phone 604.455.1430) or by email to laawfm@gmail.com. Please be sure to include the full name of the person(s) being remembered, their years of birth and death, their links to our local community (if relevant), and the names of the people or teams walking in their honour.

People may also obtain information and show their support via the Langley-Aldergrove-Abbotsford WFM Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Investors-Group-Walk-For-Memories-Langley-Aldergrove-Abbotsford/548679908520363.

The Aldergrove Star, Langley Times and Abbotsford News, members of Black Press, are media sponsors of the Walks for Memories.

Memories in Poetry

Eyes

Those vacant eyes

that cannot see

is she wondering who

I could be?

Is she trying to remember

my well-worn face

as I do remember

her warm embrace?

I look at her

and she looks at me

she looks away

should I let her be?

I remember the smile

that showed in her eyes

when she looked at me

like I was her prize.

Now those eyes

look tired and used

as they dart around

she looks confused.

It’s time to leave

as she wheels away

sadness descends . . .

we’ve exceeded our stay.

Susan Wylie, 2013

 

The Woman I Don’t Know

The woman I don’t know

wears a frown and hangs her head

the woman I don’t know

rarely smiles … is full of dread.

The woman I don’t know

depends on others for her food

the woman I don’t know

can be difficult and rude.

The woman I don’t know

sees me as son or maybe brother

the woman I don’t know

sad to say she is my mother.

Susan Wylie, July 2011

 

The Woman That I Knew

The woman that I knew

was as independent as a cat

the woman that I knew

smiled and always liked to chat.

The woman that I knew

entertained at “old folks homes”

the woman that I knew

o’er the world she did roam.

The woman that I knew

always thought first of others

the woman that I knew

was the very best of mothers.

Susan Wylie July 2011

 

The Woman I’ll Remember

The woman I’ll remember

is fun and loves to tease

the woman I’ll remember

is very easy to appease.

The woman I’ll remember

tells long stories and bad jokes

the woman I’ll remember

always talks about “old folks”.

The woman I’ll remember

loves her family & friends

the woman I’ll remember

tells a tale that never ends.

Susan Wylie July 2011