Rene Gill was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago.
The forgetfulness and the missed tasks started subtly five years ago while helping run a family business. Her son noticed the was struggling.
“My mom had Alzheimer's. Both my grandmothers had Alzheimer's. It just runs in the family I guess,” explains Rene, who throughout the interview maintains a genuine smile, and frequently lets out an infectious laugh.
For her caretaker and husband Dwayne, who calls Rene “the sweetest person I know,” the journey has been a lesson in patience. When Rene forgets to show up or accidentally does the laundry twice, he lets go.
“The tough part is to remember that she can't remember,” he said. “It's only a big deal if I make it a big deal.”
Simply put, fretting about the little things is a waste of precious time. Time, Rene fears, is slipping away. She fears not being able to remember the big events in her grandchildren's life. She fears missing football games and cheerleading practice.
“I just want this to last as long as it can,” Rene says, fighting back tears.
In the early stage,s Dwayne and Rene know the worst has yet to come. So their approach to life has changed.
“I think one of the hardest facts is that you can't plan for tomorrow so you are in the moment,” said Dwayne.
The Gill's dove in head first into living in the now by loving their grandkids uncontrollably and putting too many miles on the new car traveling to new places.
In the most vulnerable stage of their lives, the Gills are living life to the fullest, without anticipating a seemingly certain future.
“She says, you know, I don't have a problem with this disease because God is in control of it,” recalled Dwayne of a recent morning while laying in bed.
Rene has love and laughter and that seems to be good enough for her right now.
“Just take it a day at a time, not let things ruffle me. I feel like I have so many people praying for me. I have a lot of people that love me. Without that I don't know where I'd be,” Rene said.