Stefanie Paletz, father diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 62
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” I am not a religious person, but I have held this prayer close to me for a very long time. My mom introduced it to me when I was young during a time when I could not control the worrying in my head. I needed to learn how to quiet the noise inside my head, to be still, and to trust that things have a way of working themselves out. Over the years I have turned to this prayer in times of need. Always for a different reason, but seeking the same advice – to distinctly separate what can and can’t be controlled and to find acceptance. Never has this prayer carried more meaning for me than it does now. My father is 64 years old and he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 62. It was 2009 and I was 31 years old. Fear, sadness, pain and despair inhabited my soul and haven’t left since. They have become all too familiar feelings. Acceptance, on the other hand, is still foreign. Why should I accept that this terrible disease has stricken my dad and my family? How can I accept that he won’t know his own grandchildren? Or that my dad is no longer the same man that my mom married over 40 years ago? These are questions that I struggle with each day.
Prior to his Alzheimer’s, my dad always knew about acceptance. He embodied it. He rarely challenged what life threw his way. He simply dealt with ‘what is.’ Even now, this disease only allows him to focus on the present and to accept what is directly in front of him. It’s ironic, yet oddly beautiful.
In this crazy, fast-paced world filled with tragedy, I hope to learn from his outlook on life and to accept the things I cannot change so that I can find peace.