Frances C. Allison
The Faces of Alzheimer's
Where Memories Are Kept Alive...
  Burlington, North Carolina  
2/10/20 - 2/14/00

She was truly an inspiration to us all, a devoted daughter, mother, grandmother and friend to all who knew her. She was so involved in raising her five children alone after our dad walked out when I was five years old, the baby girl was six months. How precious she was and still is to us. It's for sure she knows us all now and God is holding the hand of the mother that held on so very tight to her childrens' hands.
A tribute by her daughter
Her daughter Sylvia has published a book about her experiences entitled, Trading Places, Raising Mom.

I have my moms picture on your hall of names page, just wanted to share my good news. My book is finished and available at

Trading Places, Raising Mom:

This book is written in memory of my mother, Frances Coleman Allison, a lifelong resident of Burlington, NC she faced many challenges throughout her life; from a failed marriage to raising five children alone. Working in a cotton mill for more than thirty years with perfect attendance through those years she was faced with hardships.
Her parents, Ralph and Ava Coleman helped along the way as to provide a safe and secure home for Frances and her children while she worked the night shift. Later moving into a small four-room house, Frances worked, sent her children to school, provided for them to best way she knew how and never asked for help from anyone. As suggested once by a family member to place her five children in an orphanage, she wouldn't hear
of it she worked and strived all their lives to maintain a household and protect the children as now they are grown and the role is reversed.
This has been quite a debate as to when we move Mama out of her home, after finding she wasn't capable of caring for herself and her household. Strange things were now taking place; Mama wasn't eating right or taking care of her personal needs. Every time we visited her she would sit with her pocketbook and mess in it the whole time we were there. This was so very odd to us a very unusual behavior for Mama. On lots of Sundays we all would go to Mamas and sit under the shade tree for hours just enjoying the day with Mama and the kids. Talking about everyday events and such, Mama suddenly began to just sit and stare maybe a little giggle now and then she just didn't carry on much of a conversation as she use to. This was very unusual. We knew something was wrong and yet we didn't want to believe our thoughts. Was she getting this terrible disease that wiped away her Mama's life? Was she getting Alzheimer's? While still in question, we took it upon ourselves as to when and what we were going to do with Mama, she could not live by herself. After a family meeting we decided Mama would live with me. There was always someone home to be there with Mama. We took her shopping, out to eat, all the places we went she was with us and enjoyed it quite a bit! Mama fit right in and was feeling pretty comfortable in her situation at times. Worry and frustration took over as Mama paced about wondering where her children were and at times thinking her great grandchildren as her own kids. In much confusion she carried on, as any mother would do for her kids, sometimes there were cute little remarks she would make, that were special as a remembrance of when we were small. We could feel the love this woman had for us even though she had forgotten who we were now.
      Highly against a computer in my home not wanting to tie up my phone line in case something were to happen. I refused to allow my son and cousin to have such a contraption, as this is my presence. Taking on the role of care giving my mother was certainly going to be quite a change. Working a fulltime and a part-time job made it so easy to give the part-time job up for this decision to care for my mother who was now diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Little did I know what was facing me once I began this role in my life. After weeks and weeks of persuasion, I gave in to having a computer in my home. Once the computer was installed and after a lot of coaxing, I began to do research on Alzheimer's. I had never seen so many websites of personal pages and reading of this horrific disease. Knowing then I wasn't alone; so many people were going through the same thing as myself. Guess I was just being childish and insecure as to think this was just happening to me. People who were taking care of both their mother and father wrote some of the pages, expressing their day-to-day journeys. As this disease kicked into her mind more and took its toll on her, I was compelled to write my feelings of losing Mama to Alzheimer's. And to me it paid off!
      Writing was certainly not what I had expected to do as I watched my mothers mind slowly slip away. So many nights as we tarried along as Mother and daughter in the right perspective, she would sit and watch me as I searched and read about Alzheimer's and the disasters it brings to a family. Sitting quietly by my side, I would read aloud the poems and remarks of someone else's feelings as she sit there listening as if she knew what I was reading about.
      One night as she sat in the living room, I was at the computer and I could see every move she would make. Anywhere she sat I could see her, this night was different as she was sitting on the couch she would get up and go to the front door and go back and sit down in her same place. Up and down, up and down, this went on for quite some time and all of a sudden she came into the room, waving her hand, telling me to come quick, come and see. This is my second poem I had ever written it speaks for itself.

Lady In The Glass

"Hurry, quick please come and see
There's a lady in the glass looking at me!
She doesn't say a word just looks deep inside,
Maybe she thinks I've got something to hide.
Her hair is short and curly just like mine,
if she stands under the light it surely has a shine;
I'm certain she is dressed like me in an outfit of blue;
if you look closely I think she's smiling too.
Please won't you hurry come look and see,
there is a lady and she's looking in at me."
As I go to see this lady my Mom seems to fear,
"You don't have to worry Mom it's your image my dear."
As I look at the glass in my front door,
I'll always think of Mom and the way it was before.
It'll remind me of that night but now it's in the past,
the night Mom saw the lady in the glass.
All Rights Reserved: 1996

      I wrote a poem in 1983 just after my younger sister passed away of Hodgkin's, I had it published in the Daily Times News in 1993 ten years after her death. In memory of her death we as a family went to her gravesite and my niece who is not as tenderhearted as some of us was able to read the poem without faltering. It seemed this poem gave us closure of all the hurt this family endured as to lose our loved at such a young age and so quickly. We were not aware of her being so sick at the time of her death. Her memory remains with us always. This was an event in my mother's life that she never got over even after all these years, she showed the hurt and yet now she had forgotten due to Alzheimer's and she had forgotten a lot more as this disease took control of her mind and her every being.
      Suddenly the roles were reversed, she began to call me 'Mama'. Everywhere we went she would hold on to the back of my shirt so as to know she was secure in knowing I wasn't going to leave her. Anywhere we were or whatever we did, I could feel her eyes on me, as she made sure she could keep me in sight. My sisters helped care for Mama, as I needed a break from time to time in between my job and care-giving role, as it was a hard role to carry. Mama now had basically forgotten everything that existed in her life, her family, friends, everything. This disease was the downfall and heartbreak of her children and family members who knew and adored this loving woman. Anyone who knew this lady knew of the hard work and compassion she had for everybody who had the opportunity to be in her presence. Never in my life had I heard a bad word being spoken about this lady who loved life and endured hardships and obstacles throughout raising five children alone and never ever complained. After Alzheimer's came in and stripped her mind of everything and everyone, I felt it was my turn to trade places and raise mom.