Growing up, sisters Katie and Angela always had a strong connection to their family. They were especially close to their maternal grandmother Flora, or Mammaw, as they each referred to her. “She was the most awesome grandmother” they recalled, nearly in unison. Their Grandpa Pullus was the family protector, the one who took care of everyone. “Grandpa and my cousins always did ‘boy stuff'” Katie recalls, “but he was always very protective of us girls. He was always there if we needed anything at all.”
Both Mammaw and their Grandpa Pullus passed away from Alzheimer’s. Mammaw first in 2006 and Grandpa Pullus later in 2014. Their granddaughters continue to honor their memory through their personal passions and family traditions. Grandpa Pullus was half Greek and loved to travel. He helped Katie and Angela visit Greece and Italy and the family always celebrated their heritage at Easter with a large Greek feast. Angela carries on that tradition every year ending the feast with one of her grandpa’s favorites: rice pudding.
“Mammaw, had irises in her garden in Dallas, Texas,” Katie recalled, “She was actually quite famous for them. They were always very abundant and all over the yard, so when she passed away, all the other women in my family, my mom and my sister and my aunt Sabine, all took some of the bulbs from her yard to keep and take to their own yards.” But Katie didn’t inherit Mammaw’s green thumb. She decided to
carry on Mammaw’s irises in a different way. “I just couldn’t live with myself if I took Mammaw’s bulbs and killed them” she said “so instead I got a tattoo. It’s a purple iris for Alzheimer’s disease since that’s what she passed away from.”
An avid knitter, Angela creates hand-dyed yarns with her company NanoStitch Lab. All proceeds from sales of a special purple-colored yarn called Plaques & Tangles will benefit Katie and Angela’s Walk team, Pie and Ice Cream
It was the impact Alzheimer’s had on their entire family that inspired the sisters to get involved. “Our mom took care of both of our grandparents and it’s very emotionally draining” Angela said, “There is a lot other family members can do to take some of the pressure off.”
Katie began volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association in her home state of Arkansas before moving to Seattle for graduate school. When she became an Events Coordinator for the Washington State Chapter she and Angela founded Team Pie and Ice Cream named after both grandparents’ favorite deserts.
Even far from home, the sisters have found community together at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “It’s really nice to go to the Walk because people get so into it” said Angela, “When you go to the Walk you know people are there for the cause.” As a volunteer and employee at the Alzheimer’s Association, Katie’s experiences have left her with one invaluable lesson: the resources offered by the Alzheimer’s Association can change the lives of those with Alzheimer’s and their loved. “Not to sound like a commercial” she said, “but go to the Alzheimer’s Association. Whether you’re the family member going to the doctor with your loved one or not, you just don’t get all of the resources, doctors don’t give that stuff out like they should be.”
You can join Katie, Angela and Team Pie and Ice Cream at the Snohomish County Walk to End Alzheimer’s October 1. Learn how the Alzheimer’s Association can help you, start your team today.