I hope you will forgive me as today’s post is not about Digital Nomads or Digital Pirates. It’s about my dad and the Charity Firewalk I’m doing in his memory on 20th June.
An amazing life
My dad passed away in April 2012. Although he had led an amazing life he lived with Alzheimer’s for the last few years. It was “old age” Alzheimer’s which had also affected my uncle and grandmother in their last years. Alzheimer’s changed his personality, but in a strangely beautiful way. He became softer and more openly loving. He hugged a lot more.
We learned that he could sing. He sang at every opportunity; on the bus, in the supermarket or down the phone because I was far away. He also sang in Italian, the songs he’d heard when he was there during the war. My mum says that she learned more about his war experiences in those Alzheimer’s days than in all the years they were together. He wrote her love letters.
But while he remembered so vividly those far off days, the present and yesterday were a bit fuzzy and he was often confused.
It happens slowly
In the early stages he was relatively independent and able to go to the local barber on his own. He’d been going there for years and they knew him well. One day he came back from having his hair cut and sat in his favourite chair. My mum went to make him a cup of tea and when she came back he was looking through his wallet.
“You know, Alzheimer’s is a strange thing, I have completely forgotten that I have a credit card” he said as he continued to rifle “and a lot more money than I thought. Isn’t that amazing?”
My mum was a little surprised, “You don’t have a credit card, where did that wallet come from?”
“It was in my jacket pocket” he answered and went to see if anything else had been put in his pockets. He put it on for a feel around and it was miles too small, it wasn’t his.
It’s a small world
Later that evening my sister went to a charity meeting. At the end of the meeting they were all chatting when a member mentioned that her dad had come back from the barber, completely unaware he had the wrong jacket, even though it was miles too big. His credit cards were missing and he had another man’s wallet. She called and the barber who said he knew the old chap well who must have it and assured her and it would be return. In a town of over 74,000 people what’s the odds on that happening?
1 in 3 people over 65 will develop dementia. There are over 44 million people worldwide with dementia. This is predicted to increase to over 75 million by 2030 and over 135 million by 2050 (Alzheimer’s Research UK).
We are so lucky that our generation and those who follow are living much longer than before. The downside is that many of us will have to face the prospect of approaching dementia. I want to walk on fire (which slightly terrifies me) not only for my dad but for my family, my children and grandchildren – for all of us. I would like to raise raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society Research Fund so they can “research the causes of dementia, investigate good practice in care and treatment and pursue a cure.”
You can contribute directly to the Alzheimer’s Society via the Firewalk through my Just Giving Page, if you mention the name of a person, I’ll also walk to honour them. You can also text TOES57 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 directly to the society by text message.
If Alzheimer’s has touched your family, please share your story in the comments below, I would love to hear from you.