Once upon a time, he was a big man, strong, larger than life. And when I needed him, he was there for me. He gave me a home, taking nothing in return, asking only that I take care of myself and my son. In exchange, I looked out for him, cooked for him, and kept him company (I think maybe that was the most important to him - just having us around). In truth, we needed each other.
Eventually, I went out on my own again, living close by, and still stopping by to visit with him when I could. He was a sentimental man, and decided to buy back the house that he had lived in when my Grandmother was alive, the house my father, aunt and uncle grew up in. The house I visited weekly until my 20s. Still close by, but I didn't visit as much.
A few years went by, and his Dr. told him that he had Alzheimer's disease. They called meetings for the family to attend, plans were made, arguments were waged. He resented the interference, but they had to do something. He lived alone as long as he could.
My father bought a new house, so that there would be room for Grandpa, and he agreed, but when it came time to move, he refused. So, my dad would drive everyday to drop Grandpa off at his own house, where he would stay while Daddy was at work. I drove by each day at noon to make sure that he had lunch, and to keep him company for a little while. Then Dad would come by every afternoon after work, and take him home to "spend the night". They drove him to church every Sunday, and each week, the routine would start all over. He didn't want to move in with them, so we created this arrangement to keep him happy.
Eventually, we even had to take his truck. A "Grandpa Day Care" was arranged so that he wouldn't be alone all day.
I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for a man like him to give up power and control of his life. He wouldn't have to for long, turns out.
At some point, during one of his hospital visits, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. To this day, we don't know whether he was told about the cancer and forgot, or if he chose to keep it from us.
A year later, another hospital visit, and the cancer was mentioned again, this time to my father. We were all stunned. After all this time, the cancer did not take much longer to take him from us. Afterward, in a conversation with his primary Doctor, it was apparent that even she was unaware of the cancer.
Things deteriorated very quickly after that, the cancer had been at work in his body for at least a year, and by the time we found out, it was too late.
He died on March 09, 2005, Shortly after arriving at the hospice that was arranged for him.
Every year since he passed, my sister and I have walked in the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk. It's a good time for us to get together, which we don't get to do often, but more than that, I always take that time to think about Grandpa Jack, and what a good man he was. We talk, and tell stories about him and our family, try to laugh and remember.
This year, my walk is on October 18th. We've moved to the walk in Fort Worth, so that the rest of the family might be inclined to join in.
I hope these lovely ladies don't mind, but I am borrowing an idea from BurghBaby and Rachel @ From the Land of Monkeys and Princesses, and donating all the proceeds from October page views to the Alzheimer Association Memory Walk. Please, help me out and click, click, click!! I don't know if it will amount to much, but whatever it is, I will donate it.
While you're in a clicking mood, my dear friend Rachel @ From the Land of Monkeys and Princesses is raising awareness for Breast Cancer, and donating her October revenue to that cause. Go over and give her lots of page views, please!
Clicking doesn't cost you any money, only time, so I appreciate if you would spend a little time looking at a few pages here. However, if you do wish to donate to the Alzheimer's Association, I hope that you will consider supporting me while I walk on October 18th.
Ok, so I fibbed a little - I will leave you with these facts...
This year, more than 200,000 people across the nation will be on the MOVE.
Our destination is a world without Alzheimer's. ===================================
Every 71 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
We need your help to MOVE our cause forward.
Facts taken from the alzheimer's association
Oh, and stay tuned - this month also marks my one year blogoversary!!
There will be a contest, so check back soon!!