He and my grandmother (Octavia Bowman) have been married for 50 years, but Alzheimer’s has wrung a terrible toll from her mind and body--and our family. To understand how devastating this is, you should have known her in her prime. Words just don’t do it justice. One of the first women accepted to the University of North Carolina when it became Co-Ed, she went on to have a remarkable career with the US Armed Services. Octavia was a gifted writer and penned the Quartermaster's Creed at Ft. Lee, and won a national award from the Pentagon as Editor of the Year, 1980. She had a disciplined, orderly mind that loved intellectual exercise. Just for fun, she’d do things like research and document a chronology of our family line (long before the internet made that easy)--all while dedicating time to church activities/soup kitchens, several editorial projects for friends, activities with various screenwriter's clubs, maintaining a home and an amazing marriage, and raising me. Those are just a few of the things I witnessed growing up, so when she started to forget my birthday, my name, and other important pieces of information, Daddy and I became very worried.
Then, it got worse: way worse.
She was diagnosed with dementia, denied it, fought us, fought it, and as her mind betrayed her more each day, the behavior got dangerously out of control. There is a reason they call this “The Devil’s Disease,” and in 2013, we tearfully moved her into assisted living. It was the hardest decision we ever have had to make, and it hasn't gotten easier. We have watched her slowly decline to a shell of her former self. Now she is spoon fed three times a day, fully dependent on a companion guided wheelchair, diaper-dependent, and this once articulate, willful woman now offers only occasional muttering. Most of the time, there is just silence, and oblivion.
But this is only part of the tragedy.
The expenses are astronomical, and they are destroying Daddy’s life. Her care runs anywhere from $7500 to $8000 a month. If you want to do the math, this has been going on for seven years now. And on top of that we have had to go to court numerous times with her/our own family, regarding legal matters over her care, and been left to our own devices to make sure she IS taken care of. And these were prudent, responsible and frugal people who did everything right. I was stunned to see how much they had saved that’s now been totally drained away. As Daddy puts it, "If she hadn't gotten ill, the amount of money we had saved through the course of our careers and marriage would have allowed us to live comfortably in our retirement." And keep in mind that at 85 years old, Daddy is STILL working with a daily radio broadcast, to try to do his part. He loves her more than anything but God, and this is breaking a great man’s heart, while crippling him financially.
But right now, things are almost beyond hope—which is why we ask for your help. Substantial debt has been accrued just to keep things afloat. THEIR SAVINGS AND INVESTMENTS HAVE BEEN USED. What remains is some property that no one has shown interest in, even though it has been on the market since January. There is also the house, which Daddy desperately wants/needs to stay in. We have explored loans on the house, and, because of said debt to income ratio, he doesn’t qualify. We could put the house up for sale, but with the fact it’s a house built in 1970, the uncertain market, and his age, we are VERY wary to explore that option, as it would require time and money that we just don’t have. Needless to say, there is NO MONEY TO CONTINUE HER CARE AT THIS POINT.
To say this is an URGENT MATTER IS A COMPLETE UNDERSTATEMENT. There is a very real chance Bill Bowman, The Bowman Body, and his wife Octavia could be homeless, despite a lifetime of responsible decisions and sacrifices. Let that sink in. The Bowman Body could be on the street with his wife in a wheelchair. So, if there was a night some forty years ago when you stayed up late to laugh away the awkwardness and loneliness of adolescence, or have a gas with your friends at college, or just enjoy a couple desperately needed hours with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and the Bowman Body, I ask you to now to help him as you are able. Please . . . please be there for them.
I thank you for your time and anything you can spare to repay this man and his wife for the joy they brought to your life. I will keep you updated via videos on my Facebook page, The Bowman Body Appreciation Society and Preservation League Facebook page. www.thebowmanbody.com or text/voice, or my personal e-mail: [email redacted]. I hope to be able to share how much the community and our family loves them both and report how well things went instead of trying to figure out how to survive. We appreciate you so much already, we love you, and of course, are counting on you. At this point, the Bowman Body would now say, "Have a HORRIBLE DAY!," But from Daddy and I, and for Mama's sake, we really are hoping for better days ahead.
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