‘I walk to end Alzheimer’s for my grandmother’

My grandmother has always called me by different nicknames, from “Rinn-Trinn” and “Riss-Triss”, to her and grandpa finally settling on “Bubblebutt”. I can’t even remember how they all began, but at 28-years-old, I can’t imagine being called anything else by my grandmother.
Grandma, sharp as a tack, would call us all by different nicknames. She remembered even the smallest details of conversations to make sure we knew how much she loved us. She has always been everyone’s sweetheart and everyone’s encouragement.
We went to grandma and grandpa’s house almost weekly for dinners filled with fun, crazy conversations, storytelling and games. Uno “Throw Up” was the game that had us laughing the most. A cardholder would spit out cards every so often, adding an extra element of surprise. Grandpa would make sure to come by and press it until cards flew out at grandma. “Oh, Greggie!” grandma would say lovingly. That was the best part.
Three years ago, my grandmother, Gertrude “Trudy” Baxter, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A year later, we lost my grandfather, the man of her dreams and the rock in all of our lives. Since the loss of my grandfather, she has steadily retreated into her disease.
After we lost grandpa, we knew we had to find our sweetheart a new place to live. She is now living in a specialized facility for full time memory loss care.
These days we are lucky if she recognizes our faces. Meal time is a struggle, as she has forgotten basic life skills, and walking is becoming difficult. But she definitely has her good days, filled with laughter and love. She is truly a fighter and the biggest goofball I know.
The moments I live for are the rare ones of remembering and hearing my name from her lips, or her falling asleep in my arms. So many of her care needs have changed, but she is still the same loving, nurturing woman she has always been.
I would never have imagined my family where we are now, but I am amazed every day by grandma’s strength. Watching pure joy light up her face when we come in with sweets, or running my fingers through her hair until she drifts off to sleep, are the new memories we are making. These are the moments that make us fight so hard to end this disease.
I fight by walking to end Alzheimer’s for my grandmother. She is my heart, my inspiration and my sweetheart. Last year, we started a family and friends team called Team Trudy that raised over $3,300 in just a couple months for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This year, we have been working hard on different events such as Team Trudy Bowling Day and the Team Trudy Open Golf Tournament. The Alzheimer’s Association and its events coordinator, Krista Nieman, have helped bring strength to our family. Now we have something to keep us together, keep us focused, and keep us strong.

Tristin Baxter wrote this article. She

Team Trudy, a group of relatives and friends of Gertrude "Trudy" Baxter (center), gathered for last year's South Sound Walk to End Alzheimer's.
Team Trudy, a group of relatives and friends of Gertrude “Trudy” Baxter (center), gathered for last year’s South Sound Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

lives in Puyallup and will be walking at the South Sound Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the second time this year. It will be held Sept. 13 in Tacoma. She is a research coordinator for Madigan Army Medical Center.