My family is pretty lucky, though. My dad is in a home, so we know he's safe. It was an agonizing decision, but the reality is, my mum just couldn't care for him 24 hours a day. She was exhausting herself. I live 3000 miles away from my folks, so I'm not much help. But my brother and sisters are there and help a lot, even still, the every day stuff was just way too much for my mum to deal with.
Last weekend at the surf contest, they announced over the loud speaker that a 59 year old woman with Alzheimer's had gotten lost on the beach. It was a really crowded day, and I'm sure they took their eyes off her for only a split second, and she was gone. When I heard this, I just broke down. I mean, can you imagine the panic that her family members must have felt when they realized she was gone? Meanwhile, the police helicopter began to circle overhead, and even a sheriff boat patrolled the the water, just past the surf break. Later that day, a friend told me that they heard she had been found, unhurt. Relief.
Like I said, my dad is in a safe place. Living so far away, that means more than I can put into words. And knowing that my mum, my sisters and brother are there to visit him and support each other is about all that anyone can ask for. Alzheimer's is a thief. It not only robs the person who has it of their memories, their life's worth, really. But it also robs the rest of us of the person that we knew and depended on. My family is actually planning on having a birthday party for my dad this Sunday. I won't be able to make it, but it really touches my heart that everyone still makes the effort to bring some happiness into his world. Even if he may not remember it, the rest of us will have that memory to hold onto. I hope my dad has fun at his party, and that my family sends me lots of pictures. Oh, and dad? Happy birthday, I hope you never forget that I love you.