Over the course of the next week I would like to introduce you to those who will be accompanying me on the journey to Washington D.C. As you will soon discover, we all have a common passion, an urgent message, and a personal story to share. I met the first gentleman I would like to introduce you to almost a year ago. Like my father, he shares a devotion for their common alma mater and served in the Air Force ROTC during college.
Rex is a dynamic, intelligent man who has accumulated numerous awards in his field. He is well known in the political arena as well. One of our United States senators named him “Honorary Citizen of the City” while a former governor proclaimed September 9, 1999 as this distinguished man’s day. He is known by all as a kind and giving man who would help anyone. He is the kind of person who has never been too busy to stop and ask how you are doing; an individual who genuinely cares about others.
Although his accolades in the business world are significant, his daughters know him as a family man. They both describe a humorous dad who offered pony rides on his back, danced around the house, and made Saturday morning breakfast before settling in to watch Road Runner cartoons together. As they grew up and moved away, their father remained a source of refuge and support. His was the gathering place where holidays were celebrated, a sense of calmness was found, and steaks were thrown on the grill to welcome them home.
These are only a few reasons it is so important for this impeccably dressed man to make the journey to D.C. as we share the impact Alzheimer’s disease has made on our lives. Of course, Rex will be sending a representative in his place. He will be back at the home he now shares with my father and 15 other residents. His daughter, Brenda, relays that her father hid his disease well in the beginning. Seemingly fine one day, he was hospitalized for a high fever due to a virus.
My father’s friend helps take care of my dad now. The other day Dad was choking and Rex informed me he needed some water. At the time, three water cups, a cranberry juice, and two apple ciders Rex had systematically collected from the table were in front of him. “That’s his water there,” I said, motioning towards the troops of glasses lined up, ready for service. As one of the higher functioning gentlemen at Memory Care, Rex is the patriarch who watches out for the needs of others. He also continues to serve as father to his daughters, occasionally reminding them to “call me if you need anything”.
Representing this amazing man in Washington D.C. will be his daughter, Brenda, who has gleaned his outgoing personality and sense of humor. She relays that her dad taught her to be giving and kind - to treat others the way she would want to be treated. Brenda will not leave our Nation’s Capitol without our leaders hearing how Alzheimer’s disease has affected Rex and the impact it has had on their family. She relays, "There is so much more that can be done and we need to make people aware of this!" #TheyHaveAName
Our leaders will hear the sacrifices Brenda’s family made so she could live with her father in another town for a year and a half in order to keep him in his home. They will soon understand how difficult it is to convince our loved ones they need help and the protests we face when others must be brought in their home to care for them. These are real people, with lives turned upside down overnight, who must make tough decisions. It eventually became necessary to rally the Memory Care troops for Rex’s care. He now lives within walking distance of his daughter’s home.
This assistance does not come without a hefty price tag.
We have become like family at Memory Care. Rex’s daughters help my dad eat when I am not there. We share stories and send pictures. More than a few of us will have an Easter meal together at our fathers’ home on Sunday. Today at lunch I put bites on my father’s fork, then placed the fork in his hand, nudging it in hopes he would remember how to eat.
I also reminded Rex he had placed his fork and spoon in his shirt pocket. Another family member asked me about the upcoming trip and, as I was relaying pertinent information, Rex told me to “turn around and finish my breakfast.” I did as I was told, not relaying the fact it was lunchtime. Our fathers will always be deserving of our respect and support.
#StoneBenches #TheyHaveAName #EndAlz #AlzForum #WashingtonDC #CapitolHill #HOPE
#MemoryCare #Rex #AlzFamilies #InPursuitOfACure #AlzheimersCure