Nancy Hawkins Meyer


The Finale

Nancy with Beth and her familyAt age 78, Nancy was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She had sparred privately with the disease for years, fending off the concerns of offspring and friends, employing elaborate coping skills to avoid detection and put up a good front. But in 2005, it was clear that living alone was no longer an option, and she moved to Atria Senior Living in Sugar Land, Texas to be near her daughter, Beth.

At Atria, she mourned the loss of her beloved Lexus and was appalled by the early bedtimes of other residents, but she adjusted surprisingly well to her two-room apartment. She had her little dog, Tucker, and she was very active. She made good friends with several residents and was always up for a field trip or a game of bingo.

Nancy was an integral part of Beth's family in those years, going to the grandkids' football games and concerts, present at every holiday and family event. And Beth was the daughter that every parent wishes for, there for Nancy in every way.

Nancy, Beth, and Jennifer in AustinThe other kids lived far away but kept in close touch. The entire family showed up for Nancy's 79th birthday. Chris sent postcards for Mom's collection. Jennifer visited frequently, and she and Beth took Nancy on many an outing, including two trips to Austin.

In 2008, Nancy moved to Silverado, a memory care residence. The move to a shared room was difficult at first, but she ended up becoming close with her roommate, Pat, especially after they discovered they were both huge Obama fans.

In the end, Nancy was undone by the very brain that had set her apart so much in life. She died on December 2, 2012. By then, she had lost the ability to put together a sentence, but she still delighted in people and things around her. She lit up when family visited, offered secret waves to her favorite caregivers, enjoyed the many pets that reside at Silverado. She was strangely content in a life she normally would have railed against.

For a final farewell, family and friends gathered at the Richmond House, where she was given a catered send-off in a style she surely would have appreciated. Days later, family and friends regathered in Springfield, Missouri, where she was buried next to her parents, aunt, and grandparents. She is dearly missed by all those who loved her.

Three Falls: Facing Alzheimer's and an Empty Nest
an essay by Beth Zienty

Disappearing Act
an essay by Jennifer Meyer