It was a night for the community to come together to support one another with song, prayer and the comfort of knowing they are not alone in dealing with Alzheimer's disease.
Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 155 led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance at a candlelight vigil and prayer session at The Meadows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Dallas. Reverends Dr. Robert Zanicky and Gideon Gaetano led the audience in prayer and song.
Estella Killian, director of the Northeaat Pennsylvania Alzheimer's Association, spoke about the association, what it does and shared a psalm with the group.
Zanicky shared a personal story about a gentleman in his 80s, saying he has known the man for over 25 years. He told the group what it was like to have a conversation with a man you have known for years who doesn't know who you are and then the following week remembers you again, like nothing was ever wrong. He shared that his friend is not expected to live much longer and many members of the crowd nodded, showing their understanding and sympathy.
In attendance were generations of families, groups of friends and spouses who have lost their partners. Many of the participants sang along to the spiritual songs performed by Karen Steltz, Leann Hoyt and Lurae Millazo.
Unless you've gone through it with someone you love, you can't really understand, but your hearts still go out to us, said State Rep. Karen Boback, adding she prays that one day everyone will be free from the fear of Alzheimer's.
Following a prayer led by Rev. Gaetano, the group moved outside to light candles and sing Amazing Grace. Refreshments were served while attendees shared stories with one another. Many have lost loved ones to Alzheimer's while others are still caring for family members.
Jean Mikulis was a caregiver for 14 years and shared memories of caring for a woman whom she learned to love very much, expressing her joy and sadness at what it was like to lose her.
It was an experience of a lifetime for me, she said. It started with little signs. She would get in the car and forget to shut the door and back out of the garage with the door open.
Support group member Christina Bruns was a caregiver to her mother Emily Moeller for three years. It was joy and sorrow at the same time, said Bruns. Bruns joined the support group at The Meadows to learn more about her mother's disease and found comfort in being around others who understood what it is like to care for a loved one afflicted with Alzheimer's.
Bruns said her mother has lost her memory but managed to retain her sense of humor and curiosity. Moeller is now living with another daughter, Maria, in Atlanta and the family shares the duties of her care.
Maryan Daily founded the Alzheimer's support group in the Back Mountain almost nine years ago when her husband became afflicted with the disease. The group, which meets at The Meadows from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the first Thursday of every month, has over 40 members. Their meeting is an open floor discussion where members can share their stories and help one another.
For more information on the Back Mountain Alzheimer's Support Group, call The Meadows at 675-8600.