Norb Weninger’s 72-year-old wife, Elsie, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for nine years before she passed away from the illness last week.
Weninger took care of his wife, but had to learn along the way.
“I didn’t know anyone who went through it or had any sorts of information,” he said. “Our experience came from the school of hard knocks.”
The Sun City West resident will bury his wife in Minnesota next week and won’t forget any of his time with her while she struggled with the disease. Weninger said it’s crucial for families to cope with Alzheimer’s in any way possible.
And that’s why he is excited the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Quilt to Remember has made its way to the West Valley.
The quilt, a tribute to those battling the disease, is on display through the end of today at Glencroft Retirement Community, 8611 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale.
“I’m glad there is something like this because anything you can do to bring awareness and attention is going to be great,” Weninger said.
This particular quilt is made up of panels from a number people around the country, including Phoenix artist Lisa Takata.
Takata used photography as the medium to help create a panel for the quilt. She’s no stranger to the disease.
She worked on a project with a poet who was an Alzheimer’s caregiver. And now she wants to make her own quilt based on some of those stories.
But she was more than happy to be a part of the Quilt to Remember.
“I just want families to know how much support they have and that it’s a very difficult journey to go on, but it’s OK,” Takata said.
For Weninger, it was in 2003 that he began noticing different behavior from Elsie — erratic driving, forgetting words.
As time progressed, her situation worsened, so they visited a neurologist.
“He put it to us bluntly that she had Alzheimer’s and that we had to prepare ourselves,” he said. “But nothing can really prepare you for that situation. It’s so hard to watch your spouse become so totally dependent on everything.”
His life was consumed with caring for Elsie up until her death. Weninger co-owned two businesses but recently sold off his shares because he was busy caring for his wife.
“I was with her almost every day, unless she went to an adult daycare while I got some errands done,” he said.
Weninger said he is glad Elsie doesn’t have to suffer anymore.
“It’s was so hard watching her go through Alzheimer’s,” he said.