My journal entry from April 2017:
As a family we have been on a journey with my Dad that brought us to the Mayo clinic for further testing and confirmation. My dear Dad is just 64 years old and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I cannot tell you in mere words how difficult it is for me to even type that sentence. That particular set of words strung together in the same sentence. Unfathomable. It is devastating. It is heartbreaking. It is unthinkable. But, yet it is. Most difficult to bear is there is nothing we can do. We can’t stop it. We can’t make it go away. We can only try to fight it with herbs and foods and vitamins and prayers.
He can’t remember his own birthday. This from the man who could rattle off the make and model of old hot rod vehicles as they drove down the road in a matter of seconds. He knew exactly what year we traveled to Washington D.C or Phoenix or California. He was great with numbers, dates, names, places, people. Now, conversations are difficult. He struggles to find words. He is losing those dear people he knew to exist in his outer perimeter. When we are out in public, they come up to talk with him. After he does his best to engage in polite conversation, they walk away and he doesn’t know who they are. It makes my heart hurt to see him struggle so. He loves people and loves to talk.
It is as if my Dad is made of flower petals, and there is a quiet breeze blowing each petal off of him, one by one. Until he will be stripped of all of his colorful, soft, beautiful petals. Each petal represents a connection, a memory, a word. Sometimes, it is as if we can see the stripping of each velvet petal right before our eyes. Others may drift off in the night. Inside our own heads, we cry out and scream! NO! We want to tape, to sew, to glue each one back on. But it is not possible. Impossible. No cure. No treatment. No next steps.
We just pray that what petals are left will hold tightly. That he will stay just like this for as long as he can. For the most excruciating pain lies ahead for each of us, lies in the petal that represents us. Me. I am a petal. And someday he will lose me too. The memory of me, of who I am to him, will vanish.