When It’s On Your Mind, It’s On eBay – Keeping It Real for My Mom

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and eBay is joining the fight! eBay is supporting our efforts by hosting a celebrity charity auction online. They will also be donating to the Alzheimer’s Association through their “Give at Checkout” program and will be supporting a $5,000 Tweet Challenge Match. eBay employee Margaret Millett is a wonderful advocate for the Alzheimer’s cause and played a huge roll in getting eBay involved this year. Her hard work and dedication is a great example of how one person can make a big difference. Margaret was kind of enough to share this blog about her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s and the role eBay has played along the way.

When It’s On Your Mind, It’s on eBay – Keeping it Real for My Mom

By Margaret Millett

It was a remarkable occurrence that brought me to eBay at a crossroads in my life in 2008. When eBay initially contacted me about joining the company, I was not that interested in moving to California. Truth be told, I was living in Ireland and looking for a new job. My ulterior motive was to get a position that was closer to my parents – Joan and John in West Springfield, Massachusetts. They are in their eighties and Europe was too far away. After I learned more about the company, I was very excited about the opportunities and future that I saw with eBay.

Since joining as a Business Continuity Director, eBay has become more than just a place to work. Professionally, it is a company that has a distinctive position in the marketplace and affords me many exciting career challenges. Personally, it has become a unique tool that I use when I work with my mother, Joan Millett. Joan is a retired Professor of Nursing and is one of the 5.4 million people living in the US who have Alzheimer’s. This number is expected to triple as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

When it’s on your mind, it’s on eBay is more than just a marketing slogan to my family. My mother always loved the holidays – all of them – from Valentine’s Day in February straight through to Christmas. From decorating the house, sending greeting cards, wearing a special pin to festive foods and dishes, my Mom enjoyed the most of every day and we all did too. We still have many of these precious Hallmark souvenirs, but some have been lost or disintegrated. Fortunately, eBay is there to help me rekindle a memory for my Mom. From an edition of The Night Before Christmas that I had as a child, a CD of Irish music for St. Patrick’s Day to a Valentine’s pin that I wore as a little girl. All these items and more have helped to rekindle a memory for my mother and for me. These rediscoveries have been priceless. And they would have been unthinkable 20 years ago when there was no eBay to make all of this possible.

Another added bonus is the kick that my parents get when a package arrives at their home from such faraway places as Taiwan, the UK, Australia and even, San Jose. They never know what surprises will be found in each package. But they certainly enjoy the thrill of discovery. Everyone loves to open a present!

Another great way that eBay is a terrific resource for families with Alzheimer’s is that we are able to find things that my mom likes that are no longer available in retail stores. Many years ago I bought her an L.L. Bean cardigan sweater that she loved and wore all the time. When she needed a new one I searched many retailers and could not find anything close to it. My Mom was very disappointed. But, eBay to the rescue!  I found it on our website and my Mom was thrilled to have her favorite sweater again! Alzheimer’s does not affect just the person who has it but also the people around them, especially the caregivers, who give so much of themselves. I had wanted to find something special for my Dad who is one of the 15 million people who provide care for a person with Alzheimer’s. Like my mother, he likes to keep warm in the winter months. His favorite style of Izod cardigan is difficult to find, but it is easy when you have eBay to help you out.

Joan and John are also eBay brand ambassadors. While I am proud of the fact that they wear the eBay golf shirts from the eBay store, I am particularly pleased that they use the eBay gym bag: pink for her and green for him. They stand out at their YMCA where they participate in water aerobics three times a week. At 82 and 85, they maintain a healthy and active lifestyle that has had a beneficial impact on their lives.

While no one disease can claim to be the most devastating to a family, I cannot think of one that is so cruel – it takes away a person’s sprit, dignity and personality. I am so pleased that eBay is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association in the fight to end this disease. Our goal is to raise funds to support researcher for prevention and a cure. I hope one day Alzheimer’s will be just a memory – one that no one will miss.