By Diana Taylor-Williams
Part of the reason I chose to ride coast-to-coast with Cycle America was the fact that they offered the option to do the ride for charity. I wanted to ride across the country again, but I also knew I wanted my ride to mean something. I decided right away that I wanted to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association and to do it in my mom’s honor for The Longest Day.
My mom, Charlene Philliber Taylor was born in 1933 in Boise, Idaho. As a young girl she lived on her grandparents’ 80-acre farm near Letha with her parents and younger brother. I remember her telling me that, though they always had food from the farm, they had very little cash. They couldn’t even buy postage stamps which were only three cents and her mom could only afford slippers, not shoes, when she was pregnant.
In 1942, the family moved from rural Idaho to the big city of Seattle when my grandfather got a job in the shipyards. They lived there until 1949 when they moved to Maple Falls in Whatcom County and my mom graduated from Mount Baker High School in Deming, WA in 1951.
After high school my mom spent a year working for the phone company in Bellingham with the goal of saving up enough money to attend Western Washington College of Education, now Western Washington University, in Bellingham. She was the first in her family to go to college. While in college she met my father and after her graduation in 1956 they got married and moved to San Diego where my dad worked for Convair. She taught 3rd grade for a year and her first child (me!) was born.
In 1959 they moved back to Washington and over the years three more children were added to the family.
She eventually became a proud grandma to eight grandchildren, seven girls and one boy.
I first noticed the subtle signs of memory loss when she was about 65 years old. Alzheimer’s disease gradually took its toll, and by the time my dad died, she was unable to live on her own. Her disease has progressed to the point where she now needs assistance in every aspect of life.
While the disease is awful, and she’s lost the ability to speak or communicate, she has still retained her kind inner personality, her smile and calm demeanor.
Mom, this ride is for you and all the other families affected by Alzheimer’s disease.