These last 5 years, finding out my dad had Lewy Body Dementia and watching him slowly lose all of his abilities, has been rough. He had always been my go-to-guy when something went wrong. Car is making a funny noise, kitchen sink leaking -- time to call dad. He taught me how to install a new hard-drive in my computer and drive a stick shift. When I was a child, I watched him build an entire horse corral and small barn (almost single-handedly), restore a vintage car he found out in a field, and fix just about anything you could throw at him. I tried to learn everything I could from him. As I grew older I found he was rather deep and serious about many of life's great questions but his easy laugh, light Texan drawl and smile masked this side of himself. Early on in this disease, we still carried on long, serious conversations about everything. However, when those conversations slowed and eventually stopped, there was a terrible feeling of loss. Each day now, as he reaches the final stages of his journey, I put my hand on his shoulder and say, "I love you, dad." In this moment, his eyes open and brighten up and he says with affection, "I love you too, Bean (my nickname)." I know he's still in there. And even though caring for him, with the help of my mother (who works selflessly and tirelessly), is a daunting task each and every day -- it has been worth it. I don't know how far we we’ll make it, but we are hanging in there.
P.S. This has also been made possible thanks to "my Mark," the greatest guy/husband/friend a woman could have. Likewise, this journey has been made possible thanks to my three youngest kids, who are still at home -- and who, because of their own life experiences and how they came to us, show incredible empathy and selfless caring.
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