Mother’s Day is a special chance to thank our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers for all they do. And on this Centennial Mother’s Day, West Virginians take special pride in knowing that it was our own Anna Jarvis of Grafton who first began this holiday as a symbol of love for her mother. Each year, I take this opportunity to honor the memory and spirit of my own loving mother who was a tremendous force in my life.
My mother, Blanchette Rockefeller, was deeply beloved and cherished in our family. She had a passion for the wider world in which we live, and especially for art. She also had an enthusiasm for life, and her eyes sparkled every day with warmth, wisdom and curiosity. But, sadly, all of this was taken from her by Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicted her for the last ten years of her life.
My sisters and I were determined to do everything possible to prevent other families from going through what our family went through. In 1999, we were able to honor our mother by founding the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute in Morgantown (BRNI), a research institute dedicated to advancing discoveries into how to diagnose, treat, and repair memory damage caused by disease and degeneration.
As part of my ongoing work in the fight against Alzheimer’s, later this month, I’ll spend time with the West Virginia Alzheimer’s Association to celebrate the family members, care givers and advocates who support those afflicted with this heartbreaking disease. Together, we will continue to work toward a future free of Alzheimer’s disease in which families will be able to enjoy the tales of family memories told by mothers and grandmothers with a light in their eyes.
On this Mother’s Day, ask your mother to share a special memory with you. Take the time to really listen and enjoy the wisdom, humor or family history that she has to share. Your time together is the best gift of all.