A love story in Barton: A walk to end Alzheimer’s

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Essie threw off her homemade quilt and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She left her feet dangle a minute and started the day with a heavy sigh.

She could already hear grandma putzing about the kitchen. The hollow sound as the water hit the bottom of the coffee pot, her slippers sliding across the floor like sandpaper, and the metal clank as she set the pot on the stove.

It was a familiar routine and one that kept grandma at peace.

A loud rap at the door kicked Essie out of her morning fog. Who in the world would be calling so early.

Essie jumped into her blue jeans and quick tied on a blue headscarf.

“What the heck are you doin?”

It was Hank and it appeared he already had his cup of coffee …. or five that morning.

“Can I come in,” he said… as he was already in and met Essie more than halfway up the stairs.

“You’re going to be late for the Alzheimer’s walk… or is this you getting ready?”

Essie looked at him a bit puzzled. She had mentioned the walk in Regner Park several weeks ago but hadn’t really planned on going. She didn’t have a team and thought it was too early to burden anyone with watching grandma.

“Where did you get the idea I’m going,” she asked, putting her hand by the coffee pot to test the progress.

“I promised grandma we’d weed the flower bed today and I can’t leave her alone.”

Hank wasn’t going to let Essie miss this opportunity.

“Ess… I know how important this is to you. I’m going to watch grandma, we’re going to have a ball and you’re going to hightail it to the park and get involved in this walk,” said Hank.

He had a tone this morning … and it was hitting Essie right in the feelings.

With little time to hem and haw, Essie rushed to get her socks and shes.

Hank saw the renewed determination and confidence in her eye. “That’s my Barton girl,” he yelled as she hurried down the steps, the sound of the screen door slamming behind her.


Essie arrived at the park early. Organizers were still setting up; staking the banner and hefting signs and planting the plastic flowers that turned ever so slowly if by chance they managed to capture a brief wind.

Amanda Gabert saw Essie muddling about. “Here for the walk? You’re a little early…,” she said.

Essie ambled over and the two chatted. Gabert reassured her that there would be plenty of teams and fun ahead. “I know where you’re coming from,” said Gabert. “A lot of caretakers feel they’re really alone in this fight with Alzheimer’s … but you’ll see, there are plenty of people going through the same thing.


Within minutes streams of people started to fill the park. Essie sat on the steps by the Silver Lining Stage. She watched the drumline, the kids dispersing flowers.image2-53


It was incredible the number of people all talking about how they were dealing with or had been touched by Alzheimer’s.


image1-75A sea of purple flowed down the path, around the bathhouse and across the road. So inspiring and Essie, for the first time, felt less alone.

















Returning home Essie stood in silence, hands on hips as she watched Hank work in the flowerbed with grandma. He was so attentive and patient. She was actually a little jealous as Hank managed to carry on a conversation with grandma … and good-naturedly chide her a bit.

“You missed one,” said Essie, stepping over the low wire-wicket fence to pat grandma on the back and help her to her feet.image2-51

“Not in this garden,” said Hank, holding up his dandelion digger like it was a mighty sword. “How was it?”

“Amazing,” said Essie. “Simply amazing.”

“Come on grandma … we’ve got one more flower to plant yet this season.”


Harvest Moon Celebration

The Historic Barton Business Association is hosting a Harvest Moon Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 29. This is a family-friendly event with music and dancing and an old-timey pie contest. Be sure to enter and we’ll see you at St. Mary’s Parish Center.


Women & Wheels Car Care Clinic at Bob’s Main Street Auto – Thursday, Oct. 6

Bob’s Main Street Auto, 1200 N. Main Street in West Bend, is opening its doors to education as it offers women a free opportunity to learn more about their vehicles. This will be a fun event with small-group sessions on things like oil changes, checking tire pressure and where to put your window washer fluid.

Call to register at 262-338-3670 or 262-335-2277. There will be wine and cheese and door prizes and you’ll leave a little bit smarter with knowledge about your vehicle.  See you there!






Build. Boost & Buy in Barton  – – Shop these local businesses

          Wisconsin House Woodworks

          Albiero Plumbing 

          Master Electric
           Lake Lenwood Beach and Campground

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