We NEED a First Survivor for Alzheimer’s – a Memorial Essay…

By Amanda Rittenberry – November 2016

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I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately how I’m doing. My standard response is “fine, thank you for asking”. I haven’t shown much emotion since my father passed away a mere month ago. Some may find it weird, some may think I’m on my way to a major breakdown (maybe I am) and some may think I simply don’t care. What most don’t realize is that the disease took him from me years ago. It has been at least 4 years since the last time we held a real conversation, 3 years from the first time he asked me my name, 2 years since I’ve heard his voice coherently and then this past year – nothing but pain and suffering for my family.

On October 18th, 2016 Alzheimer’s finally took my Daddy. It’s an odd feeling – I am selfish and want him here with me but no body deserves to live in the condition that Alzheimer’s left him in.

My Stepmom (who is a super hero in my opinion) was by his side as he left us. Moments before he passed I was able to tell him over the phone that I loved him and it was OK for him to go, and he did.

The minutes, hours and days to follow were a whirlwind. Between calls to the family, arrangements and traveling there wasn’t much time for my own emotions. The love and support from everyone was overwhelming. For me personally, it seemed like his death had already happened so long ago. At this point I was just putting into place all the things I had been preparing for since his diagnosis in 2009.

I have missed my dad for years even though he was still here. I mourned his death before he physically died and learned how to live without him before I really had to. I think that’s what the disease does to those around the person suffering. You go numb because it’s the only way to get through it, there is no hope, there is no survivor, there is only the love you have for them and the peace you wish them.

We still need our first survivor and sadly my Dad wasn’t him. I’m pleading with everyone to get involved – I’m 32 years old and my dad is gone and has been (mentally) since I was 28. That’s too young to lose a parent. Help put an end to Alzheimer’s!

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