It’s June and I haven’t written here in 2023. Where does the time go? I’m retired and busier than ever, but what is it I actually do all day? I know one important thing; I spend time with Daddy.
On National Doughnut Day this past week, I took Pop his weekly supply of snacks and drinks along with a favorite special treat: chocolate glazed doughnuts with sprinkles. Please don’t tell his doctor, but our local shop might know our names and what he likes, only because his huge smile when he enters this store is infectious. He wasn’t with me this visit, but they knew where this order was going.
As we spend time together, Pop usually shares stories and remembrances while partaking of his special treat. Mind you, even his deeper memories are not always chocolate glaze and sprinkles (with ALZ, it rarely is), but he holds his own and witty observations often surface. His biggest revelation this past week was the time he and his friend, Bill, walked from his house on Windomere Avenue to a local doughnut shop to take home a dozen to share with their families. Unfortunately, by the time they got home with the box, it was empty: “We just told my mom, ‘Sorry; we dough-not know what happened to them!’” Daddy laughed and laughed.
On really good days, we have deep and meaningful conversation in snippets with daddy carefully verbalizing his thoughts. Stories, family lore, vacations, dog show adventures, friendships, and more tumble into vibrant stories of delightful conversation. He speaks and I soak up all I can, especially when his sense of humor takes over.
On the toughest days, I help him dig deeper inside his mental well to encourage him. Often times, he simply chooses to sit quietly in my company, look at family pictures, and wait for me to share the familiar stories with him. As he observes on occasion: “I haven’t forgotten, Bethy; I just can’t remember most of the time.”
Sometimes, without warning, he looks deep into my eyes, straight inside my soul, and says, “I forget, but thank you for remembering for me.” Those moments of clarity are a divine gift. While often overwhelming, walking this path with him as the keeper of his memories in his greatest time of need is a gift to both of us.
June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. 2023 marks ten years our family has “officially” been affected by ALZ. A decade…and according to St. M, 16.666% of my life. From mom’s diagnosis in 2013 to dad’s in 2017, we’ve tackled the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. Some days are diamonds and some are stone; some minutes golden and others are full groan.
Alzheimer’s may be robbing the vibrancy of Daddy’s witty mind, but he has us and we have him. We continue to forge ahead on this unique journey together. We understand well how some things in life cannot be fixed, but are shouldered with love, help, and strength of others. His heart and soul continue to hold what his mind cannot, so we choose to follow his lead to “take what you’re given with grace and dignity and move on.” After all, we simply ‘dough-not’ know what the future holds anyway, but doughnuts, they make it all a bit easier to swallow some days.
Take care of yourselves, friends, as you care for others; be blessed and be a blessing.