Sunday, August 12, 2012

Do they celebrate birthdays in Heaven?

Yesterday was my Dad's birthday, actually August 11, 1927 was his birthday. He died on December 14, 2010. Last year and again on this year, my siblings and my Mom celebrated our memories and the legacy of values that Dad left us.

His last years were not happy ones - for him or for us. He began to suffer the effects of dementia in the early 2000's and by 2005 was well on the way to being unable to live a normal life. My family has always been tightly knit, but we closed in more in support of Mom and Dad and we managed for a couple of years until in late in 2006 we had to place him in a nursing home. We lucked out in many ways - he ended up in a wonderful place right in Lodi so Mom was 10 minutes away. He had fantastic care but the disease is relentless and took more and more of him every week.

He watched his mother's decline into dementia and it was very hard for him to cope with it happening to him. He fought it for a long time - the fear and frustration must have been horrifying. I did my best to help by learning all I could about dementia and learning how to make things easier for him. It breaks my heart even now to think of how afraid he had to be.

I made this quilt for the first AAQI show: Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece. I wanted to depict that battle, from the first realization that it might be happening to him to the point where he couldn't fight any more, when the disease won. I won't say he lost, because it wasn't a fair fight. The quilt is named "The Crooked Path", with my own sub-title "Daddy Let Me Hold Your Hand".

I have pledged to do everything I can to help stop this disease. I am on the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative a grassroots all-volunteer organization. I work every day to make it possible for us to raise money to fund Alzheimer's research. I volunteer at a local nursing home in their special care unit, trying to spread moments of joy to others living through the hell of this disease. This year, I am walking the Alzheimer's Association's Walk to End Alzheimer's. My fundraising page is here.