I have always had a relationship with my dad. Sometimes it was hard because he lived hours away, and we had a young family. But he was the best grandpa. He taught my kids how to make a duck call using the tab off the top of a Pepsi can. He took them for ice cream. He even pushed them around in the wheelbarrow as he was getting his garden ready. He was trying to teach them to work hard, just like he taught me.
When I was laid off from my employer in October, 2010, we were worried. My husband had also been laid off earlier and still didn’t have a job. But, we know that things happen for a reason. Even hard things. So, In February 2010 when we found out my dad had Alzheimer’s, I was in a position to step up and help take care of him. It was an experience that changed the way I see things (There’s that perspective thing again). It gave me greater empathy, and allowed me to serve my dad in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to had he not gotten sick.
When it go to the point that we needed to put him in a care center, we found the best and newest one around. It was only about 20 minutes from my house. I was at the care center many times a week in the beginning, and then every day for months. My dad didn’t always recognize me. When I walked in one day and he greeted me by name, I was so excited. It made my day just to know he remembered me for a little bit.
I used to push my dad in his wheelchair around the care center and outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. He loved to push the button on the drinking fountain and get a drink. The day when I pushed him close to the drinking fountain and he didn’t know what to do, I just hugged him and cried. I knew that he was forgetting more and more.
All of those things that happened to make my life a little tougher, were forgotten years ago when I made the decision to love my dad in spite of everything else. But for me, it was never a question of whether or not I would help when he needed me the most. Whether he knew me or not, I knew who HE was. And as I held his hand the day he died and told him how much I loved him, I also thanked him for all of the hard things I went through. Because they made me into the strong woman I am now.
I read in Laney’s journal that she was glad that I could get past all of those hard things. About how much she loved her grandpa. And how glad she was that she could help me take care of him, too. I have no doubt that when she got to the other side, he told her thank you, just like he will tell me when I see him again. And he will remember everything I did for him.