Today, I want to honor my Dad’s memory with this letter.
I learned what it was like to lose a loved one on October 18, 2002. It was a Friday. You died at home in your own bedroom, but those of us who came to see you that morning for one last time—we had lost you long before death ever physically took you from this world.
We lost you, little by little, day by day, month by month, to that strange and terrible and dreadful disease of Alzheimer’s.
You were born on October 22, 1929. You were a soldier at the young age of nineteen. You were a husband at 22 and the father of eleven children by 1976.
It wasn’t until 1998 when that horrid disease of Alzheimer’s began to raise its ugly head, sapping your memories, draining your spirit, destroying your brain cells.
The disease changed you so profoundly, and you retreated somewhere deep within yourself where we couldn’t reach.
At first, you had trouble remembering little things, like what you did yesterday. Then you forgot the big things, like how to get dressed in the morning and go to the bathroom.
I’ll never forget the day when you forgot my name. You looked at me and said, “Are you Carol?”
Big tears welled up in my eyes, and I said, “No, Dad. I’m Mandy.”
Eventually you forgot Mom’s name, too.
There were some good days, a lot of bad days. I admired you so much. You did not give up on life, Dad. You hung in there like a valiant warrior fighting an unbeatable foe, a vast formidable army. You were so strong.
Even at the very end, sometimes when I looked into your eyes, I could see the shadow of who you once were, and I knew that somewhere behind that dull, empty stare, you still existed.
Now, when I visit your grave, I hope you know I always loved you, and I love you still.
Thanks for visiting me in my dreams from time to time, where we get to talk and laugh again, and when I wake up, I feel like I got to see you all over again.
You loved Our Lord; you loved the Scriptures, and I am comforted in knowing that your hope was “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).