Tony Hawk Writes About His Mom With Alzheimer's, And How He Knows She's Still In There

"She is still in there somewhere typing away about her life, her experiences."

Retired professional skateboarder Tony Hawk has been open about his mom, Nancy Elizabeth Hawk, and her experiences with Alzheimer's disease and how it has affected his family over the past decade. Given that 5.7 million Americans live with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association, many can relate to Hawk's journey. 

In 2015, he wrote about how his mom couldn't speak and barely remembered him. In 2016, he talked about how "hard it is to see someone you love lose their mental capacities and communication skills."

Recently, Hawk shared a moving Instagram post about one thing that made him realize his mom was still in there.

He begins by recounting his mom's many life accomplishments. She was a secretary at a high school before she went on to become a business teacher at a local college, and eventually earn her doctorate in business education. 

Hawk explains, "She used to type so much that whenever we had a quiet moment together (usually in front of the TV), she would hold my hand and I could feel her fingers pulsating with keyboard strokes. In other words, she was subconsciously dictating her thoughts and experiences through phantom keyboards in real time."

The athlete admits that at first it "annoyed [him] to no end, fingertips were tapping away on me while [he] had to endure 60 Minutes (her choice, of course)."

He contrasts her "strong, vivacious, quick-witted, edgy and ultra-supportive" personality in those days compared to now, when she doesn't recognize him. 

"Sometimes there is a slight glimmer in her eye, sometimes she babbles incoherently and sometimes she uncontrollably bursts into tears," he writes. "Today we mostly sat in silence. I gave her updates on our family and fed her Coca Cola through a straw every few minutes (which she still loves, even through her catatonic condition)."

Then he noticed something happening with his mom's hands.

"I noticed her fingers twitching. I'm not sure for how long; maybe they'd been moving the whole time and I wasn't paying attention. As I watched, I was reminded of her habit of typing unconsciously throughout my life," he wrote. "And even though it may have only been her body (yet again) betraying her, it gave me comfort knowing that perhaps she is still in there somewhere typing away about her life, her experiences, her feelings and our current conversation."

He concluded, "Most of my visits end with a feeling of despair and impending finality, but today I left with a sense of hope. I like to think of my mom air-typing 'f*ck Alzheimer's' as I walked away. #endalz"

Others are sharing similar experiences of hope.

"My mom endured 10 long years as well," one user said. "She used to love salsa dancing. I would play her favorite artist and would watch her feet tap."

"My grandmother lived with this disease. I will forever hold on to those moments where we got to see glimpses of her, when we would sing hymns with her and her eyes would light up," recalls one Instagrammer. "Those times are close to my heart. Thank you for spreading awareness and shedding light on this reckless disease."

Though there is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are advances being made to diagnose the disease, and the more people share their stories, the more awareness about the condition there will be. 

(H/T: People)


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