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PHOTOS BY ARLENE JONES

aging Editor’s note: Arlene Jones is the honorary chair of the 2016 Brainerd Lakes Area Walk to End Alzheimer’s. A community leader, her credentials include co-owner/operator The Farm on St. Mathias, co-founder of Sprout Food Hub and Growers and Makers Marketplace, a master gardener and board member of the U of M Extension Regional Partnerships and the Crow Wing Food Coop and a member of the Alzheimer’s finance committee. But more than a committee concern, Alzheimer’s is a personal cause for Arlene.

Honorary chair of the 2016 Brainerd Lakes Area Walk to End Alzheimer’s Arlene Jones with Team St. Mathias: Front row, (L to R) Arlene, Charlotte Whittemore, Jerilyn Baird, Bob Jones. Back row: (L to R) Amanda Wittemore, Scott Whittemore and Justin Gangl.

By ANN POWERS

In

Worth Every “Onion”

the past few years, Arlene Jones watched her father, Randall “Randy” Baird, suffer from Alzheimer’s and felt helpless to make his life better. At Randy’s funeral, her son, Justin, recounted when Randy was helping plant onions at The Farm on St. Mathias, owned by Arlene and husband Robert. As fast as the onions could be planted, his grandpa followed and pulled them out. Arlene’s response at the time, “I don’t care, just let him do it.” When Justin spoke at the funeral he said, “Remember what you said, Mom? It was worth every onion.” Randy was no stranger to hard work, remembers Arlene, having grown up on a farm, though Randy and his wife, Jerilyn, raised their family in the city of Grand Rapids, Mich. Randy loved to come to the lakes area with Jerilyn to work at The Farm every summer and was adept at gardening and handling the farm machinery. The Alzheimer’s diagnosis was made in 2010 when Randy was 67 years old. At first, there were very few signs or symptoms. Arlene and the rest of the family tended to blame any mistakes or lapses in judgment on his poor hearing. They just 16 Fall 2016 | her voice

kept adjusting the farm jobs they would entrust to him. By 2012, Randy’s personality was changing significantly. Arlene had bought her mom and dad a golf cart to get around the farm. One day, Jerilyn

...You lose them one inch at a time.”

asked Randy to get them both Arlene’s father, Randall a drink – meaning from the Baird, at St. Mathias Farm, barn. Instead, he headed out one year before he was toward St. Mathias Road diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. on the golf cart, thinking he needed to go to town to get those drinks. Fortunately, Arlene discovered him before he got too far. At this time his favorite task was weeding, but he became increasingly frustrated because he could no longer do it. He took to wandering the farm, but couldn’t get too far on foot. When spending the

Her Voice Magazine Fall 2016  

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