On Saturday our local Alzheimer Association will have their memory walk…details are on their website http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2017/IL-Illinois?fr_id=10360&pg=entry
which should work if you click the link…however…me…technology..you know.
So in case it takes you nowhere or somewhere bad…google 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease Decatur IL…
Russ and I will be walking and remembering our own family’s journey.
My dad died after at least 8 years of the symptoms being visible enough that we knew he needed help…
We don’t know how long this intelligent, dignified, proud, musical, woodcrafting, travel-loving man worked to fight and survive trapped inside what became an increasingly confusing world called his mind.
He and my mom tag-teamed life and were able to cover for it far longer than we want to even imagine.
We just know what it felt like to fight frustration in the last seven years under our care, as his body kept going along, but his mind became a complex set of questions that none of us could answer to his satisfaction.
He lived in a world where skewed messages tried to make sense of what everyone told him and it was hard and it was ugly and yet in the midst of it all…
God did some pretty incredible things.
He taught my mom that she was stronger than she ever gave herself credit for and that the Jesus she had always believed but never knew in a personal way… was everything she could have hoped He could be.
And then some.
That the flash-tempered man who had used words and rage to vent his frustrations, all of my life, yet found the words of an apology impossible to form…
somehow found those words in a courtyard of a nursing home one day and in a sweet and humble and precious way erased every hurt of a little girl who had always known he was…
but didn’t understand how much she needed to hear him say…
he was sorry.
Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, you know.
One of the most treasured words of insight I ever heard from one of our children came out of that season when they said they saw me in the way my dad was always helping people as he walked down the hallways…moving an obstacle out the way of someone’s walker, passing out the hymnals before the minister spoke, just little things to make it easier for someone else.
I tend to think I more have the ministry of BEING served…but it was sweet they saw this quality in him.
The thing my father would have most despised about his illness if he could have seen it from a distance, was the pain it caused his family.
He would never have willingly harmed us…thus the non-verbal apologies that always followed when his temper would flare from time to time in our home through the years.
He was a tender hearted man who fought quick tears like his daughter…
and so to honor him, I would leave when he was angrily yelling at me…
and I put aside all guilt when caring for our family meant he would be alone at the dinner table or bingo game to attend one of their concerts or games.
I laughed when I could because I knew he would have laughed with me…like when we noticed the “excessive numbers of calls” list posted in the lobby one week and ours was #1…woot…
So here’s to those of you who know the loss of someone to this terrible disease.
Here’s to the days you leave the facility and sit in your car with hot tears burning and you feel so torn with guilt and sorrow as you go off into the freedom that is your life after waving goodbye to the hand imprisoned by a wrist monitor and the eyes that stare blankly through the window back at you.
Here’s to the times you put your hand on your own sweet head and pray to God you don’t someday cause your family the pain and heartache you are walking through.
Here’s to the grandchildren of those like my dad…
who sometimes have to fight the fear when mom calls and asks things like…
Can you talk to me while I walk the parking lot and try to find my car?
Not that anyone we know has done that ever….like…you know….say, me.
I don’t have any sage words or helpful tips for you.
Every single loss to this disease is different.
The dynamics of the relationship, the way the disease works with the wiring of the carrier, the way in which Alzheimer progresses…all of it.
But I do know this.
In the midst of the journey, there is One who walks with you.
Closer than a brother or sister.
And yet, graciously…mercifully … raises up people to walk beside you and be His tangible touch.
So many friends and family were the tangible touch of Christ to me during that time and my Russ…our kids…were rock stars through the whole thing.
And now it’s our turn to just be there for our friends who are walking that rough road.
I pray if you are free on Saturday morning you would consider going and being the tangible touch of Christ to someone who is slowly watching a loved one slip farther into the abyss of memory loss…
and let them know…
when their loved one no longer remembers…you and I will remember with them <3