On a Personal Note…(Nicole)
Nicole walked and fundraised for Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Sacramento in honor of her dad who has Alzheimer’s, then that very same evening, her dad walked her down the aisle for her wedding! A wedding and Walk all in the same day? Now that is a bride on a mission! Here’s the story in Nicole’s words:
This is the first time our family has had a real hands on experience with Alzheimer’s. My grandpa on my dad’s side also had it, but he lived in Florida so we didn’t experience the daily struggle of taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s.
My dad retired from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department in 2003 after 30 years of service. We started noticing that he was a little more forgetful, but we attributed it to retirement brain – going from being a detective to a retiree was bound to take its toll. We had a rough couple of years with family problems.
In 2004, my grandma was hospitalized due to having a massive stroke and she ended up losing all of her speech and becoming paralyzed on her right side. And, my dad was always there. My mom ended up quitting her job to take care of her full time. In 2007, when my dad was 58, he was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
We had noticed that he was getting lost a lot. He used to ride his bike up to 80 miles round trip to the delta and back. He logged over 700 miles in a six-month period. One day, I had to pick him up because he couldn’t figure out how to get home.
My mom’s attention quickly switched from taking care of my grandma to taking care of my dad. He lost his license and was slowly losing his speech.
I met Phil in 2008 when my dad was still highly functioning. In the last five years, Phil has really stepped up to the plate with helping with my dad. My dad sometimes forgets my name, but he never forgets Phil’s. Phil is the first one to step up and escort my dad to the bathroom at a restaurant.
Last year my mom got really sick. I had to take off work to take care of her, my dad and my great grandma who was battling liver cancer at the time. Phil would get off work, come over and make sure my dad got a shower. Seeing the way he helps my dad makes me fall in love with him more each day.
I remember the day we got engaged. I went to my mom’s to tell them and my dad started crying. I have never seen my dad cry. He grabbed Phil and hugged him and grabbed my hand and started crying again. Then I started crying (and I think Phil shed a tear or two even if he won’t admit it).
My sister got married in 2011, I remember bawling my eyes out when she had her father/daughter dance for two reasons: 1.) It was beautiful. 2.) The realization I might not get to have one hit me right in the stomach.
I am so thankful that I get to have my dad be a part of my special day, and the Alzheimer’s walk is his special day. So, why not have two of the most important walks of my life on the same day?
– Nicole, caregiver