Support the Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease

Seems like my life is full of busy-ness lately. As a single parent, my life always leans towards the hectic side, but recently, it’s been dialed up a notch or two. Both of my teenaged kids are busy with activities, school, college preparations, and even driving lessons for my son. Combine that with me having a full-time job and taking care of a house – tilt! I’m on overload.

But as busy as I am, I always had time to call my dad. In fact, I used to call my dad two or three times per week. We’d talk about my kids or the crossword puzzle he was working on, or a challenge I was facing. We’d joke and laugh and see who could outdo the other with our mutual quick wits.

Over the past few months, my calls to him have dwindled to once a week; sometimes reaching the two-week mark. With all that’s going on in my life, I think I was just forgetting to call.

Or was I?

Was I really forgetting to call the one person in my life who loves me no matter what? Why wouldn’t I find the time to talk to my dad? Why the sudden change? There’s only one reason I can think of. I’m selfish.

I want to be able to talk to my dad like I used to. I want to tell him about my life issue du jour and have him offer advice. I want to Google a tough crossword puzzle clue for him and have him think I’m a genius for figuring it out. I want to test his quick wit by being the first one to respond. I can’t do these things anymore.

My conversations with my dad are short. If he’s having a good day, we can talk for a whopping five, maybe ten minutes. The topics of conversation are “how are you feeling” or “what are you doing” or “yes, I’ll be coming home soon.” That’s it.

As the Alzheimer’s continues to rob my father of the qualities that I admired the most, my connection to him has changed. I don’t want to talk to him and be reminded that he’s not the dad I knew. I don’t want it thrown up in my face that he can no longer provide me with the answers or the comfort I want and need.

I just want my dad to be my dad. I just want things back the way they were. So yeah. I guess I am selfish.

But I can’t change this situation and if I know anything for sure, it’s that what you can’t change, you have to find a way to accept.  I will need to prepare myself for the future when what little I have of my dad now will likely go away. I need to be grateful that when I do call, he knows who I am. I need to recognize that when we can’t have conversations like we used to, it’s not because he doesn’t want to, it’s because he can’t. It’s the disease. It’s not my dad.

When my mom died of cancer, I hated the disease that took her life. I’m in the same place now. I hate Alzheimer’s. I hate reading stories of others who are in the same boat (or worse) than I and my siblings are. I hate hearing that this disease gets little funding for research because it doesn’t have the “clout” like cancer or AIDS or some other high-profile disease.

But hating all of these things will not bring my dad back to the man he once was. It will do nothing to help prepare me for the day when what little I have now is gone.

In most things, I’m a pretty tough cookie. I can get through just about any challenge, ‘suck it up’, and find the silver lining or lesson to be learned. That’s why we have tough times in our lives. It’s not to punish us, but to push us to look inside, find the strength, or look upward and have faith that you will get through.

I know I will get through this. I know that the lessons I’m learning may one day help someone else in a similar situation. I know all of this.

But knowing all of this doesn’t change the fact that I still want things back the way they were. Maybe I’m selfish or maybe I’m being nostalgic or maybe…I just miss my dad.

For more information on Alzheimer’s or to support research, I encourage you to visit alz.org, the official website of The Alzheimer’s Association. They do great work and maybe one day will find a cure.

Jen’s Gem: Please support the cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

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