“That’s my wife.” Those three little words can mean so much.

Charlie Garrett has done just a little bit of everything in his life, from being an auto mechanic, to racing motor cycles and driving a truck. He retired from the state after working at Taft Youth Center. Charlie and his wife, Renee, have been married for 19 years now. They have two children together with five total. Charlie makes his home today at Wharton Nursing Home in Uplands Retirement Village, Pleasant Hill. He now has Alzheimer’s disease and was recently placed under hospice care.

The hardest part for Renee has been her feeling of loneliness. She began to withdraw herself from others and activities because of her feelings of isolation. Renee finally realized that part of her loneliness feeling was from keeping so much bottled up inside and not sharing her feelings with others. Talking with those who are going through the same difficult situation has been a big help for her. To help provide comfort, Uplands has a support group that meets the second Thursday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in Heritage Hall.

Renee has seen many changes throughout the stages in Charlie’s progression with Alzheimer’s disease. With tears in her eyes, Renee had remembered one particular day, “After not knowing me for weeks, he looked at me and then turned to the nurse and said ‘That’s my wife.’” That made her feel so good when she heard that, but at the same time, she felt sadness because she knew it was only temporary. She has found that the best relief for her is being a part of the solution. Renee is ready to let out her feelings and thoughts, and through her work with the Alzheimer’s Association and fundraising, it gives her a sense of accomplishment.

Renee, manager at Dollar General in Fairfield Glade, has asked her employer to team up with her in support of the Alzheimer Association’s Memory Walk. They have generously agreed, recognizing Sept. 6 as Alzheimer’s Awareness Day. Dollar Generals in Crossville held different activities at each store to help raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. Funds raised by the bake sales and other activities will support the annual Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk, Saturday, Sept. 13, at Tennessee Tech University.

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