“Mrs. Fogel, you are forgetting stuff all the time,” one of Evianne Fogel’s Job Corps students told her.
Evianne was 62-years-old and she had sensed something was amiss. But she didn’t know that her fellow teachers had been covering for her. She didn’t realize that some of her behavior in the classroom was not appropriate.
“They were gentle with me when they told me I needed to quit teaching,” she says.
Her doctor’s visits confirmed she had plaque in her brain and serious memory issues. She sensed the bitter truth before the doctor told her: she had Alzheimer’s Disease.
Learning How to be Home Alone
Teaching was a huge part of her life. Evianne was a pioneer in working with disadvantaged children and she’d won national notice for her innovative ideas and techniques. She’d traveled the country setting up Job Corps education programs.
Suddenly, instead of having a fascinating job with engaging co-workers and challenging students, she had the four walls of her Cincinnati living room.
“When you’re working all the time, you fantasize how wonderful it’s going to be when you retire,” Evianne says. “But at first, it felt like death for me. I’d sit on my couch and amuse myself by seeing the patterns in the stucco walls. I felt I was put in a chamber with no one else around me. I was used to working and I didn’t how to be in a house all day long.“
Finding Grace in Every Tree Branch
Evianne has a supportive husband who tried to help her adjust. At first, she felt angry and sad. Then, she tapped into her innate resilience.
“I have a sense of higher power,” she says. “I pray and I do feel like there is grace and forgiveness; I think it’s in every tree branch, if we are willing to receive it.”
Evianne had to learn to be alone. It was a difficult moment-by-moment, day-by-day lesson. She practiced talking walks and doing yoga at home.
She also poured more time into her music. She adores playing the piano and volunteers one day a week, giving a young girl music lessons.
And she’s started on the book she’s always wanted to write, about the amazing inner city children she’s been honored to teach.
Evianne views this time as a gift. She knows she repeats things; she is easily lost and often forgetful. But she is embracing this journey as a chance to deepen her spiritual connection with her higher power and with herself.