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Friday, June 15, 2012

Dodging Life's Bullets

Yesterday my first copies of Walking In His Shoes were delivered. This book is a labor of love. In it, I gather the stories, anecdotal remembrances, of instances that forced me to confront the changes Alzheimer's disease made in my father. It's a small book, just a half-dozen stories. But I hope my words will encourage others who find themselves in similar situations.

Thankfully, my dad's years living with the consequences of this condition were not many. Since I didn't live close by - he lived in Connecticut; I lived in Texas - those few times I spent with him made it easy for me to see the changes.

Dad died in 1999 at the age of 92. As I relate in my stories, his path of decline was a gentle one, unlike so many others whose personalities are affected by the symptoms of this condition.

It was at my dad's funeral that I first saw signs of this same disease in a sister, one year younger than I. We were gathered in the kitchen of the home place after the service. From the doorway where I stood, I watched Angie make a sudden stop as she crossed the room. She stood for a minute or so, a completely blank expression on her face as if she had forgotten where she was headed.

I looked toward her daughter across the room, caught her eye, and sent her a questioning look. She gave me  a short nod. We both recognized the reality of the situation.

Angie lives in Phoenix and has resided in a full-care facility for several years now.  Her daughter keeps the family informed of her decline. I last visited her three years ago. I've not gone back; there's no need. She had no idea who I was then. With the song, 'Our God Is An Awesome God' playing in the background, I silently bid farewell to my sister. Her physical presence remained but the person I shared a childhood bed with was no longer there.

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