To a Father with Alzheimer’s on Father’s Day

father's day alzheimersMy friend, New York actor Kyle Johnson, posted this note on Facebook today. This was one of the most wonderful tributes to a father I have seen to date. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, and so did my girlfriend’s grandmother. When we read this post it touched us both and Kyle kindly gave me permission to share it here. Kyle, your father should be proud. And so, it seems, he is.

 

Does My Father Remember Me on Father’s Day?

by Kyle Johnson

Early 2013 I was waiting at a bus stop in Greenpoint with my roommate and her mom. We were headed to Williamsburg for some chicken and waffles. My mom called and updated me about a doctor visit; my dad’s diagnosis was Alzheimer’s.

He had been forgetting little things before then: directions, when my mom would be home from work. Watering the yard he built and landscaped years before had become a struggle. Driving became off limits after a car accident. Then a fractured pelvis after a fall from the roof showed us that he needed to be somewhere safe, so my mom decided he should be in a group care facility.

The first time I saw him after his move he cried. He never cries. But this man who had built the house I grew up in was now an old man and a child, all in one. He smiled and laughed once while I was home last summer in response to a snarky comment by my grandpa.

We never know what he’ll lose next. It gets a little worse every day. When I speak to him on the phone we have a simple two or three sentence conversation before he loses focus, then he returns again a few moments later and we repeat the whole process.

My mom called me back one day earlier this year and told me, “I forgot to mention… Dad asks if you’re visiting every day. And I tell him, ‘Oh, not today. He’s in New York.’ And he says, ‘He really likes it there.’ So he thinks about you every day.”

I think about him every day too.

Happy Father’s Day to every father out there.

Happy Longest Day to everyone putting in man hours supporting a world where Alzheimer’s exists.

Here’s to dignity and here’s to life.

***

For more on Alzheimer’s Disease, visit The Alzheimer’s Association

 

Tom Clancy Dies, Adventure Perishes

Author Tom Clancy has died at 66. And with him went the chance for more extraordinary adventures with my father.

Clancy was aTom Clancy man, a storyteller, and inspirer and an author. He was also a link between my father and me.

One of the things my father and I had in common was a love of Tom Clancy novels. We would share them and talk about them and dream of sequels. I loved hearing them in audiobook format.

His characters were so wonderful they could be played by multiple actors in film adaptations without the slightest question (Alec Baldwin becomes Harrison Ford, anyone?)

Whenever I hear Tom Clancy’s name, I think of my father. Clancy wove stories which were so mesmerizing and believable that both my father and I were transported into our own amazing adventures, living a life as partners in imagination. Going places together we never would otherwise, experiencing moments impossible in real life because of schedules, money, reality.. Yet Clancy’s imagination became our imagination.

Thank you Tom Clancy for submarines and secret agents and tundra and codes and ammunition and covert operations and  helicopters and rabbits and tigers and dragons. And for giving me something more in common with my father.