This campaign began as "A Joy to Remember Tour" but just months after creating it, our Mother, Ms. Freda Ellis, who was suffering from fronto-temporal dementia forgot how to walk one day. We took her to the hospital on August 30, 2013 and she never came home. A lot happened in between that time. She died in hospice care on August 30, 2015.
Our last trip was in early August 2013, so it was a complete shock and horrifying to have her forget how to walk just 20 days later. This campaign is now focused on the feature documentary film and transmedia project, "You're Beautiful to Me," a story of a mother and daughter's journey with dementia. Below, you can read the original campaign request. But if you know the story and just want to spread the word or donate to the film , it would be greatly appreciated! Please also read the latest update! We have a dedicated site and we're also on Facebook (http://YoureBeautifulToMe.com) and our hashtag is #YBTM, everywhere on social media.
A Joy To Remember Tour
Freda Carolyn Ellis
Gracious. Beautiful. Generous. Kind. Thoughtful. Humble.
When I was a little girl, our mailbox was filled with "Thank You" cards and letters that students sent to my Mother, thanking her for teaching them a new skill, which they used to get a new job, which improved their quality of life. It happened almost every week, every month, every year, a paper waterfall of gratitude came pouring in from the post office.
Today is Freda Ellis's birthday. She is 72 years old and I could think of no better way to try to celebrate her life than to have the community of persons who love her dearly, contribute to her life in the best way, possible.
After a series of odd incidents and confusing scenarios, my family and I finally have the clarity that we need: Freda Ellis was diagnosed with fronto-temporal dementia. It is a mental illness, a disease that, like Alzheimer's, is incurable.
Our hearts are broken.
We have begun "the long goodbye" because persons with dementia go through various stages, over varying periods of time, before their brains and their bodies break down---and they die. It's a cold, hard reality but these are the facts. And millions of Americans will be in the exact position we are in now.
Freda Ellis has worked so hard her entire life. As long as I can remember, she has had two and three jobs to provide for her children, support her family and make a happy home.She has been the best Mother, ever, and always encouraged her children to "jump at the sun" and to "live our best lives." I became a professor, my brother, Paul, became a lawyer and even though we are both professionals, trying to make it in the city and deal with the mountainous financial and emotional costs of this journey has drained us all. We need the village we call our community to help us out.
We don't need to dwell upon what a wonderful person our Mother is because the community will tell you, on this page, on Facebook, everywhere.
We decided one of the best ways for those who love her to help her out is to assist in making the Winter of her life, "A Joy to Remember." She is still in the stage in which she remembers people and names, she exercises and enjoys life, great meals, company and travel. We want to throw her a big party (preferably at the August Wilson Center) and we developed a list of places we would like to take her that reflects her past and present joy:
1. Niagara Falls - she took us there as children and we want to go back with her again.
2. New York City - A graduate of Fordham University, she lived there as a young woman and took many trips to support August Wilson play openings, so we MUST go back.
3. A cruise - She's never been on one.
4. Thailand - We did the research and there are possibilities here that are untapped in the West. We would like to explore them. Plus, it's affordable, there are beautiful sites and great food. Either way, it's a win.
5. Hawaii - It's a dream. If we can make it, we will!
We have already taken out a loan to renovate her home and we pay various bills, so there is certainly debt to pay down; but we simply do not have the luxury of time to wait.
We want to create "A Joy to Remember" right now and we are hoping those of you who love Ms. Freda and those of you who are touched by this story, will share your resources and help make this happen.
As a reward, we would use social media to give you an update each step of the way!