We have two good parents who were about as opposite as you can get. They were older when we were born; Daddy was in his 40’s when they had my older sister and almost 50 when my younger sister was born. Both of our parents were smart and treasured education with great expectations for our academic careers.
Mother was precise and viewed us with a critical eye. If she praised us, we’d done something remarkable. Our dad, on the other hand, thought that we three girls were the most amazing creatures that had ever drawn a breath of life. Mother said things like, “If you have 2 good friends in your life, you are lucky.” Daddy thought everyone was his friend.
When they retired, they moved up to the wilds of Montell, Texas. It wasn’t long before Mother started complaining about Daddy being confused and forgetful. In my arrogance, I thought Mother was just being Mother. Nothing else to distract her and scrupulous to a fault, she had become hyper focused on Daddy. I would listen patiently to her and think, “She just needs to complain.” It was after she had a breakdown and I temporarily took over care of our dad that we realized things had to change.
In the early 80’s, Alzheimer’s disease wasn’t as well-known as it is today. That was Daddy’s diagnosis along with its terrible prognosis. We grieved as he descended deeper into the sickness. Nearly 30 years ago, on May 8, 1986, death freed him from the disease’s bondage.
It took me years to stopping wincing when I thought about him. I blamed him for getting sick, for passing that legacy to us. Daddy’s few years of sickness overshadowed a lifetime of his humor and patience, kindness and compassion.
It was when I put his name on a resentment list as I worked the 12 steps that I realized it wasn’t him I resented. It was that dang disease. Over the years, I’ve contributed to the Alzheimer’s Association and intended to, one of these days, participate in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising event. My intentions are always good; my follow through isn’t.
This year I decided to participate. I checked dates for walks in south Texas and found one in Austin on my birthday, October 12. It’s a 70% chance that I’ll be with GE in Austin anyway on my b’day. I text-invited my sisters, nieces, and daughter to join me.
After I got a few “I’ll walk with you,” I registered our team: Dave’s Girls. I started sending out “formal” invitations yesterday and got our first team member, my older sister.
It isn’t a long walk, only 2 miles, but I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our dad than with his girls being together.
To donate to our team, go to http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2014/TX-CapitalofTexas?px=5535143&pg=personal&fr_id=5433