Monday, October 24, 2011

Dad's Alzheimer's

As long back as my memory serves me, until his retirement, my Dad valued a hard days work. He felt that if you put in a hard days work you should be rewarded for it. He was an entrepreneur who treated his employees not only well but with respect. He taught his children that no one, not even he was "above" scrubbing the toilets and sweeping the floor. He proved his values by walking the walk, not just talking the talk, in his daily actions. Employees were given raises based not just on how long they worked there, but how hard they worked. Something that has been lost now in most companies. 

Though he valued the family business he built, #1 in his life would always be my Mom, his wife, Carolyn. They not only worked together, they golfed together, vacationed together. He truly never tired of her company, because he adored her up until the very end.

As for him as a Father, the time that I remember most when I was growing up was him coming down to the track when I used to run, and helping me with my long jump. Over and over he would help me get my steps just right to hit that board, measure how far I went, and give me advice. I'm sure he would have liked to take his one and only day off work and take a much needed nap (which he also enjoyed) but he seemingly did this with joy.

Once my Father and Mother retired to Florida my mother almost immediately became sick. All the things that my Mother once did, now my Father would have to do as a care taker.  He took care of all his usual chores, and now hers as well as she slowly became unable to do them. Then He got sick. He had to have an aortic anyerism  repaired (he had one also when he was 55) which would forever change his physical abilities, but would also save his life. After that they knew they would need help from family and moved back to Illinois.

After being here about a year, they moved into an assisted living home, and very soon after Mom had to live permanently in a full time health care facility. She required 24/7 one on one care. It broke my Fathers heart. Being with her seeing her deteriorate broke his heart, yet also being separated from her broke his heart. Faithfully, each and every single day for the rest of her life, he would go and visit her for one hour in the morning, and one hour in the evening, at the same time everyday.

Now fast forward to today. Dad lives with Scott and I. He has mid stage Alzheimer's. He was over medicating himself and ended up in the hospital with kidney failure and we knew it was time for him to move in. He can still converse but his short term memory is literally gone. His long term memory is now getting very muddied to say the least. He doesn't even remember how my Mother passed away, nor how he proposed to her. This woman he adored so very much. Having said all that he can still play 9 holes of golf once a week, and watches Wheel of Fortune with us Monday - Saturday when we have dinner together. I truly do cherish every single day that I have with my Father. He was always the rock of our family. It is an honor to be able to give back a little after he gave so very much.

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