January is Alzheimer's Awareness Month - A Very Personal Love Story about Alzheimer's

 

This is a very personal and difficult story I have to share about a disease that will eventually touch each and every one of us in one way or another. January is Alheimer's Awareness Month, and it is my most sincere wish to see this condition eased or erased not only by those who suffer from it, but by the loved ones who's hearts are broken clinging to memories.  

 My parents on their wedding day October 16th, 1954.

It's a love story about how a family adored a man, and how it is my greatest hope that we will all contribute towards understanding Alzheimer's. 

 Photoshoot, late 60s...

I miss my dad every day. He was a brilliant, vibrant, handsome (a one time model and actor), dedicated husband and family man, father of five, grandfather of 14 who loved us all and made each of us feel as if we were his favourite. His children's and grandchildren's accomplishments, great and small, were as if they were his own. My dad was the man you wanted on your Trivial Pursuit team though he couldn't resist giving the answer even if it wasn't his team's turn. A voracious reader, he read many tomes of historical books and novels every week. He was an athletic man with a fine physique, but was more interested in his children's achievements than bothering with his own. He loved music, as does my mom, and from them our family's musical appetites were nutured. He loved everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to Mozart to The Bee Gees. He was a very funny man with a quick wit. Dad could also make polite introductory conversation in a surprising number of languages.

 My brand new son and my dad, adoring Grandpa, March 1985.

While my dad's intellectual passing preceded his actual physical one, he still managed to find a little humour in a situation, right up until the last hours of his life. He never lost his sense of protocol, dignity, and elegance. His passing took 5 days from the moment we were told he would pass soon. All seven of we 'Original Girdlers' were together in his last days and it seemed as if he were just enjoying the time having all of us together in one room again. We had many tears but surprisingly, many laughs which seemed to comfort and amuse the man with the brilliant wit. At one point he was gazing so lovingly at my mom, he suddenly smiled and puckered up to kiss her. That was their thing... my parents were always affectionate, always kissing... what a wonderful loving example they set for us. At one point, on day three, he looked at each of us around his bed, and looked directly and smiled sweetly at each of us in turn.

  Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary, October 16th, 2004.

On Robbie Burns day last year, January 25th, there was a bagpiper visiting the nursing home. My dad had been a Lieutenant in the Toronto Scottish regiment and had met the Queen and Queen Mother a few times in his official capacity, carrying the staff in front of the pipers. The piper who played for the nursing home residents that day kindly came into Dad's room and played him a command performance of Amazing Grace. The piper played beside a picture of my dad lined up with his regiment at Camp Borden in the 40s. My sweet father died an hour later, held and surrounded by his wife and five children. He was, in the truest sense of the words, a Gentleman and a Gentle Man.

I tell everyone this to help us all understand how very important the work and research for Alzheimer's is to families like ours who so very much adored a man afflicted by this cruel condition. I have included some photos as describing this wonderful man is just not enough without images...

Please contact the Canadian Alzheimer's Society in your area to find out more about developments in Alzheimer's and Dementia research, how you can help or get involved. There are many capacities in which you can help out, donations are always welcome and the volunteering needs are diverse and welcome. Even an hour per week will be a great help. My mom participates in the local Walk for Memories every year before and since my dad passed. Feel free to contact the Lindsay chapter and donate to this event. 
 Our father-daughter dance at my wedding, 1983.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to share and remember my amazing father with me, Lieutenant Charles Eric Girdler. 
May your days be filled with making memories.
Canadian Alzheimer's Society
1-800-616-8816
http://www.alzheimer.ca/en

The Alzheimer Society Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland and Haliburton.
1-800-765-0515
http://www.alzheimerjourney.ca/

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Dee Girdler

Dee Girdler

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Pinnacle Realty Ltd., Brokerage*
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