Hear Us Roar
Michael & Gail Cronan
Live: St. Simons Island
From: Byron and Elko, Ga.
It’s clear you two have an unbreakable bond—how did you meet?
Gail: We’ve been married over 51 years. We met a long time ago on a blind date in Macon, Georgia, set up by my brother-in-law, Charlie. The guys worked together at Kroger when Michael didn’t even have a vehicle. When I first looked at him, I felt that he could be the one, and Michael said he felt the same way. We dated on and off for eight months and then we got married. So, we really did know!
We hear there are good days and trying days associated with Alzheimer’s:
Gail: Michael is in early stages. We are in year two, but it is the hardest thing. There are days when he tries so hard to do things, and he can’t; it’s heartbreaking. I give God the glory when we have good days. He gets frustrated at himself because he knows what he used to be able to do. Thankfully, we’ve not experienced three to four bad days in a row. We are in new roles these days being together 24/7. I also have a male companion come in once a week to be with Michael four to five hours, so I can get out on my own and look around.
What have you learned since Michael’s diagnosis?
Michael: It (my diagnosis) scared me to death at first and still does. Gail (then) said we were going to a place to meet new people: *Memory Matters.
Gail: We have great community support from Memory Matters. They have blessed us so much.
How has Memory Matters of Glynn helped?
Gail: The positive aspects of our new lives are here at Memory Matters. I found them under “Alzheimer’s” in the phonebook. We met Penny and talked; she gave us information and invited us to come to programs. It took a while for me to get Michael over here, but when he saw all this place has to offer he was fine.
What role does laughter play in your lives?
Michael: Gail makes me smile when she feeds me and drives me around. We both laugh watching the birds in our backyard bird feeders every morning.
Gail: Even the squirrels are entertaining; they swing the bird feeders around. It’s all too funny. I drink coffee and Michael enjoys his morning Coca-Cola. When we have good days together, it makes me smile. I’m so grateful and thankful for that.
Michael, we hear you are a dog-training enthusiast:
Michael: We have an 85-acre farm in Houston County (now leased). I used to field trial bird dogs in competition there with my friend, Mark Murphy. Mark and I still talk on the phone. And we hunted on horseback! The most dogs I ever had were about 13; my favorites were Joe and Joe, Jr.
Gail: Both men like to reminisce about their hunting days. We have many awards on display at our St. Simons home in Michael’s man cave.
Tell us about your family:
Gail: We have two sons, Alex and Lance. We moved to St. Simons Island in 2014 to be near Lance, and we love it. Our three grandchildren: Tyler, Morgan, and Wyatt are all great kids. Michael was a civil service military contractor at Robins Air Force Base. He loved being an excellent provider, and I loved being a stay-at-home mother. We also love our two cats Henrietta and Squeaker, and Country, our English cocker spaniel; he has a ribbon wrapped around our hearts.
Our most favorite places on Earth:
Michael: The farm, but now I really like St. Simons and my garden, where I have 4-foot high tomato plants!
Gail: I love the beach here, walking on the beach and picking up shells; it’s just so relaxing to me.
What do you think the secret to a good life is?
Both agree: Working hard and sharing with each other, doing projects and living our lives together.
How are you living your lives “Out Loud” these days?
Gail: There’s no stigma any more for having this because anybody can get it. One out of three people over age 65 can develop dementia such as Alzheimer’s. You can’t catch it from someone. Getting out in public around others is one of the most important and best things to do, and no one has been unkind to us. Everyone wants something to look forward to every day. The community here has been helpful and very nice. We love being part of Memory Matters and feel blessed to live here.