Like so many others, I have been intrigued by the beauty of the Historic Purple House on Main Street. Of all the colors available at our local hardware store, how did this light, lavender purple make the ranks and become the number one draft pick?
I decided to meet the owner, Ms. Heidi Becker, to find out. When I walked inside the purple house, known as the Becker Bungalow Circa 1890, my love of all things old was renewed. The hardwood floors have been meticulously restored to their glory days. Heidi has been restoring the house for several years. Initially, “people told me it was a dump, and I shouldn’t buy it” recalled Heidi, but “I love historical homes, and realized it was a diamond in the rough and worth preserving.”
And I agree! The house feels comfortable and cozy, but its age reminds you that there is wisdom in her old bones. I found myself wanting to know more about the house’s origins. Becker enlightened me, and she is still looking to speak with anyone who has history on the home.
“It was originally the Pompey- Bearden House, and eventually used as a mercantile shop and a general store.”
After becoming acquainted with the house, I asked Heidi about her vision for the Bungalow and its purple hue, the official color for both Alzheimer’s and Promise Place.
“My vision is to honor Alzheimer’s patients, my mother, caregivers, and Promise Place.”
Heidi is not only a successful Commercial and Residential Real Estate Agent for Keller Williams Peachtree City, and the house is currently being used as a Keller Williams/ Heidi Becker and Associates Realty Office, but she is also a Certified Fundraising Executive who has raised millions of dollars for local non-profits. At the sale of every listing, she makes a donation to her client’s favorite charity. Heidi was named #1 Keller Williams Commercial Agent in Production 2018, and is consistently recognized as a Top Agent in residential. As fate would have it, she has added a new title behind her name, Caregiver. Her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease eight years ago, and three years ago, when her disease progressed, Heidi moved her mother here from her native state of Arkansas.
“When my mother moved here, I was excited. She was my best friend, and I was excited to spend time with her.”
As the disease progressed, Heidi moved her mother to a nearby Assisted Living Facility.
“My mom went everywhere with me,” she said. “She would go with me to preview houses. I made her a part of my life, still she didn’t know who I was, but she knew I was someone who loved her.”
Becker, with her jubilant smile, expressed herself in a way that makes you feel as if you’ve known her for a very longtime. I asked her what was the hardest part about being a caregiver.
“As the disease progresses, they can’t communicate. Seeing and hearing becomes compromised. Communication becomes body language, and you become an interpreter of body language.”
Heidi believes that everyone’s journey with Alzheimer’s is not the same. What happened with her mother may not happen to your family member. She dispelled the myth rage is present with all patients, sharing that her mother was as sweet and kind as she’d ever been during this period in her life. The silver lining for her was that her mother lived in the present. If she was upset 20 minutes ago, she didn’t remember it because she could not remember the past. Her mother was the kind of woman that went to other patients and planted a kiss on their cheek and extended hugs to other caregivers.
Heidi believes the most important part about being a caregiver is being an advocate.
“You have to be a giver. This person is my priority, I need to be their advocate. Alzheimer’s patients can’t say, ‘I need help or I need to go to the hospital.’”
Heidi also believes there is a tremendous amount of guilt in being a caregiver.
“After my mom passed away, I was guilt-ridden. And to others I want to say, let that guilt go because it’s false guilt. I had to give it to God. And as a care giver, each hour is unpredictable, but move through it with as much grace as possible.”
During the three years that Heidi provided care for her mother, she was taking care of children and running her business and at the same time launching her real estate business.
“You can work, be successful, raise a family, and be a caregiver. The thing you have to do is take care of yourself.” Heidi said.
How did she make herself a priority?
“I built it into my business plan.”
She enjoyed regular zumba classes, committed to one spa treatment a month, ate healthy, and had an occasional glass of wine with great girlfriends.
Becker still has a lot of plans for the Becker Bungalow. She plans to use it as a real estate office once the renovations are finished, and in the evenings, she will allow non-profit groups to use it as a meeting place and fundraise if it suits them.
Heidi has plans for a commemorative garden, with a bench with her mother’s name on it. Her mother’s final resting place is in Arkansas, so she doesn’t have a place to go to honor the memory of her mother. She knows that others may be in a similar situation, and she wants her garden to be a place of relaxation for the community and also a place where community members can have their loved one’s name added to pavers in the garden, so they too can have a place to honor their family members.
On October 5th, on the 10th year anniversary of the Fayette County Alzheimer’s walk, she is planning to “Paint The Town Purple,” inviting local businesses to support victims of Alzheimer’s and domestic violence by donating a portion of their sales for the day to these two worthy causes.
“I envision the walk in the morning, a lot of purple balloons on businesses doors showing their support.”
There will be a ribbon cutting with refreshments and live music at the Becker Bungalow from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“A true community event, and a great way to support the two non-profits,” she said. “I’m going to make sure that this house continues to be an asset to the city. This property is the city’s, even though I own it. It is a part of Main Street and the historic district of downtown Fayetteville, and I have a lot of pride in that.”
As I leave the Becker Bungalow, I am reminded of all the nameless caregivers in our own community that are diligently working to facilitate the needs of loved ones who may not even remember their caregiver’s name. If you are a caregiver and need to talk to someone contact ALZ.org or Alzheimer’s Association.