November 23. This was always a day I looked forward to. It was a day that we celebrated the best man I know, my daddy.
On July 24, 2014, my dad went from the strongest man I have ever met, to an Alzheimer’s patient. He was only 58 years old on the day of his diagnosis.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease is my definition of pure hell. It’s a slow and painful killer. It slowly erases every square inch of your brain until you have nothing left. This, is what is and has been happening to my dad for the last, at least, seven years.
I have tried to write this post quite a few times over the last few years. I always say I am going to post it on his birthday, but it’s almost always just too hard. This year, I am making myself write it early, so when the day comes, all I have to do it hit post.
Loving someone with Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking. The best way I can think to describe it is watching the person you love disappear before your eyes, and then watching their body follow suit. This disease changes a person. It starts out small, but eventually nothing about the person you love will be there or be the same.
The day my dad got diagnosed, he lost all parts of his independence. No car, no working, no being left at home alone. I had to watch my hero go through this. I watched him throw things, yell at God, and cry about how unfair life is. I watched him struggle to follow movies we had watched millions of times. My heart broke has he tried to tell me something, and he couldn’t quite find the words to tell me.
He has fewer moment of clarity as the disease progresses. The last one I had with him was the day I brought my wedding dress home from my final fitting. I was sitting in the living room with him, and he asked me how my now husband was feeling about all of this. I told him I thought Andrew was doing fine with it all. He looked at me and said, “I am so happy for you, sweet pea. Andrew is a very lucky guy.”
This Thanksgiving, hug your dad a little tighter for me, and all of those who have lost a parent, or are watching one suffer. You never know how quickly things can change.
Happy 61st Birthday Daddy! I love you ♥