Whittle: Alzheimers steals our loved ones

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When Pat and I pray, we pray not only for stricken loved ones, but also the families and caretakers of Alzheimer victims.

We can't say anything but positive for the tender loving care that's been given her mother, Katherine "Sis" Moser and Aunt Agnes Baker at "The Arbors" in Smyrna.

Pat has a "gift" for bringing out the best in loved ones with this horrendous disease that often leaves bodies whole, but minds hollow of memories.

When Pat enters The Arbors, not only does our loved ones light up, one 90-year-plus patient breaks out in dance. Another non-family patient flashes her winning smile to Pat during the daytime, until the "Sun Downer" syndrome swallows her back into darkness each evening.

We routinely praise God for the merciful loving caregivers of Americare USA who keep our loved ones clean and cared for.

Pat broke out with uncontrollable sobs and tears when Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Victory Reed contacted us about the recent loss of beautiful Jackie Thompson Jones.

She did the same with the earlier loss of Marilyn Hood, wife of well-known community servant personality John Douglas Hood.

Jackie entered my heart four decades ago when she stepped across the street from her prestigious Office Manager's job at Murfreesboro Electric Department, showing her "servant heart" by requesting I do a newspaper story about Southeast Baptist Church's annual pilgrimage to North Dakota where they constructed a home for an elderly Native American lady.

Truman "Butch" Jones Jr. entered my professional life on a cold blustery winter night back in 1988 in Leanna where an armed veteran had barricaded himself, threatening to end his life and shoot anyone else who got close to the dwelling.

My first impression of Sheriff Jones was his calm and caution, when younger officers wanted to "rush" the house and take down the mentally-ill veteran who had got off his medication.

Sheriff Jones patiently, but firmly instructed his officers: "Stay back, remain calm, and let's be patient" there in the aisle of a small Leanna grocery that temporarily served as crisis headquarters.

Within 45 minutes, the sheriff and officers had safely talked and walked the pitiful Vietnam War veteran out of the house back into the safety net of York VA healthcare.

That is the nature of longtime friends Truman Jones and John Hood as they, along with strong cast of supportive family and friends, stayed true to loving and serving their ailing spouses in every way possible.

Truman truly sealed our friendship back in 1989.

Not knowing a soul when moving to Middle Tennessee, he volunteered to drive me for multiple out-patient visits to a hospital in downtown Nashville. When he couldn't make the final trip, he enlisted former Murfrees-boro Police Commiss-ioner Bill Jones and his personal vehicle.

I was blessed to have the two highest-ranking taxi drivers the community had to offer.

Pat had a special relationship with Marilyn Hood, evidenced multiple times when we'd attend social functions. As John and I would mix and mingle, Pat and Marilyn sat over in a corner and contently conversed the night away.

The timing of Jackie's passing caught us all off guard, for only the day before, she had obviously enjoyed lunching with husband Truman and loyal friends Bob and Mary Woodard, along with restaurant manager Tiffany on the outdoor patio at Peter D's Restaurant.

That was the last time Jackie affectionately called Truman by his nickname "Butch." The next day her longtime battle with Alzheimer ended.

We cherish our loved ones' brief glimpses back to reality.

For example, Truman, Pat and I went into spiritual revival last winter when we took Jackie to see Jason Petty's remarkable impersonation of the late great Hank Williams Sr. at the Arts Center of Cannon County.

While seated on the fourth row back from center stage, we shed tears of joy with accompanying goose bumps when Pat and Jackie formed a little personal duet and began singing in harmony, word per word, with performer Mr. Petty.

We're talking multiple songs such as "I Saw the Light" and "Kaw Liga". It especially warmed the cockles of our hearts when Jackie belted out all the words to "Cold, Cold Heart" that had introduced Hank Sr. to the Grand Ole Opry and world back in the 1940s.

Hank Sr.'s record "eight encores" at the Opry with "Cold, Cold Heart" still stands as an unbroken record.

A few weeks ago, Jackie and Truman accompanied us to hear Paul Lamb and the WSU (whoever shows up) Bluegrass Band that performs free to the public each Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Sam Davis Home Museum.

Again, Jackie broke out in song while smiling and rocking to and fro in a big rocking chair, as husband Truman patted her hand in rhythm to the beat of soothing bluegrass music.

We're thankful for loved ones and our cherished memories ... Amen!

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Dan Whittle
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