Who’s Radioman?

Who is Radioman?

“Radioman” has been my Screen name on advrider.com for the past 5 years. The name came from a woman in a leather repair shop that did some work for me adapting a jacket to have an ipod remote on the sleeve. She called me “radioman” when I came to pick up my jacket. This was the same day I registered on advrider. Still chuckling about the name, that is what I used. But over the past few years of my life, engaging in the ADV community has really been great and a place that I have shared my life caring for my wife Chris who had early onset Alzheimer’s disease. So will stick with Radioman.

My name is actually Mark, I am just a guy who loves to ride a motorcycle, and is embarking on a new chapter in my life that I call “Chapter 3”.

As a brief introduction, I will go back and share a bit of the story of my life that got me to start writing this blog. I have found that sharing my life story has been an amazing way to connect to other people especially the motorcycle community, and those that have experienced the painful process of losing a loved on to Alzheimer’s Disease.

My wife Chris and I met in a restaurant in NYC in 1990. It is a love story, that carried us together in amazing ways. When I married my wife, Chris back in 1993, Her family had suffered greatly with a genetic version of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Her mom had passed away at the age of 53, and her only sister Debbie, was beginning to show the signs of this disease. We knew it was possible for her, but knew that we loved each other and would face our lives together. With her son Jake who was 7 when we married, we settled down and had a great life together. We settled into working on our house, raising Jake, engaging in activities with a passion, traveling , and enjoyed great friendships.

In 2006, I quit my Sales job in the printing /Prepress Industry to be full time with my wife, who had developed the early onset Alzheimer’s. At the time, I knew that it is what we should do. We traveled the US on our BMW touring bike, to visit family and friends. It was a long journey as this disease is a profoundly difficult disease, as the sufferer loses their memory, the ability to carry out any daily functions, and need full time care. I will not go into the whole story about this past 5 years of our lives, but My wife Chris passed away in January due to Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 54. It was a long goodbye. After she was gone, I realized for the first time in many years I had no real responsibilities, and that my dream of a motorcycling around the world is something that I could actually pursue.

In order to share this new Chapter of my life, I decided to set up this blog. Hope that anyone that reads this will enjoy, engage, comment and ride along as it all develops.

Faith, Hope and Courage,

Mark Donham
mdonham@mac.com

For anyone who wants to know more of our story, Below are some links to some videos I created through the process of caring for my wife. It was a way for me to share with family and friends the realities of the disease.

Memory Walk 2007

Thanksgiving 2008 (I created this because a really good friend of Chris’s asked me why I was with her everyday and what I could possibly do as she was losing her ability to communicate).

Thanksgiving 2009 (note you will need a Quicktime plugin for your browser to view this). This one is very personal, as I was struggling to come to terms with the pain and grief of losing Chris. I did it for a Grief class I took, and then decided to share with others as I know it is the same for many others. Hopefully it will help in the understanding that Grief is a process and with Alzheimer’s Disease and it starts long before your loved one physically dies. It is longer video than the other videos and is deeply personal to me. I have shared in hopes that it might help other facing similar situations.

http://gallery.me.com/mdonham#100136

(if you have trouble with link above, you can view it on this site, but there is an ad that you need to view first. Very sorry about this.)
http://www.tangle.com/view_video?viewkey=6265343e7e4a2fb78564

or

2010 November, This was my final video of Chris as the disease progressed and it was clear to me that we were getting closer to the end of the disease. Things can change quickly in the decline so it is important to cherish the moments. I shared these videos with family and friends so they too would know the realities of this terminal disease.

Thank You so much for taking the time to read our Story and watch the videos I created to share this difficult journey.

Mark

13 Responses to Who’s Radioman?

  1. Mark, Hope to see you off at Hells Canyon 2011.
    Good thoughts and our prayers go with you…
    Dave

  2. Duchess says:

    Hey Mark
    Thank you so much for your email and link to your blog. I’ll be following your progress as you adventure on through …. good luck with the ride, safe journey, have fun, and most of all keep smiling my friend.

  3. Mary Edmeades says:

    Hi Mark – Wow…. What a truly great adventure. I think the route sounds wonderful – and even if you only made it to Canada – you are an inspiration. In Greek we say
    Kalo Taxidi – which translates to Good/Safe Journey….. Enjoy and write often so we can all live the dream with you.
    Mary

  4. randy says:

    I beleive everything happens for a reason, I met you for a simple exchange and somehow, I feel your going to inspire not only me, but a lot of us.

  5. Traci Ray says:

    Mark-
    I am so excited for your adventure and look forward to following you on your journey. Thank you for all of your leadership at the Alzheimer’s Association – I feel so lucky to have met you:) Have a wonderful time!

    • radioman says:

      Thanks Traci,
      You have done a great job on the board as well. You contributions have been great! Looking forward to hearing about your next Chapter as well 🙂

  6. ErikW (DCrider) says:

    I’m follwing you Mark, so howz the weather out there?

  7. Brian Butler says:

    Mark,
    Your blog is great. I love your story and your spirit. Weekend of July 4th looks hot and sunny here in LO…finally! Briggs 7 and Henry 5 are looking forward to the lake and the fireworks. I will be following you through chapter 3, but will miss seeing you at Starbucks and pray for your safe return. Pursue your passion and live your dreams.
    My best,
    Brian

  8. gary spillane says:

    hola mark,, I met you at pikes peak colorado. I was riding the black klr 650. good luck with your journey and keep us all posted as you go along.. nice meeting you and have a safe trip. also let me know how you handle the panama as I plan on doing that trip in the future, thanks, gary spillane

    • radioman says:

      Hello Gary,

      You made it back to Oregon ok?

      follow along and you will see how Panama goes 🙂

      • gary spillane says:

        made it back a couple days ago, already starting to plan my next journey. ride back was great but did hit some pretty increment weather going over the rockies. thanks for asking. will be following you through the panama and beyond. your the second person that I have met that has or in route of the same road trip that you are doing,.. I am jealous and excited for you. talk to ya soon. keep the pics coming 😉

  9. Julie says:

    I’m enjoying reading about your adventure. Great photos- they do tell the story. Stay well and keep up the great posts.

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