Team Leo…My Dad, My Best Friend
The title tells a lot…Team Leo was formed for my Dad, who lived with ALZ for 8 long years. Thankfully he was at peace, but watching a great man take that long and internally lonely journey was tough.
Coming from a large family (9 children, same parents…happily married for 58 years), it truly took a team effort to help my Mom through the journey with my Dad. I was so fortunate to play an active role in my dad’s journey. You see, I was his full-time, in-home, caregiver for (what turned out to be) his last year of life.
Allow me to rewind for a moment back to 2004/5 when my Dad was officially diagnosed with ALZ/Lewey Body Dementia. I was with my mom during the visit with the Neurologist that day, when the Dr. was giving dad the simple ALZ test and then handed my mom a piece of paper that said one simple word that forever changed his life and all of our lives, “ALZHEIMERS”. My mom looked at me with sadness…her partner of 50+ years was slipping away from her and there wasn’t anything that any of us could do about it…
During the years that followed following his diagnosis, one of my sisters moved in with my mom and dad to be there for my mom and help with my dad’s journey. Ups and downs, but mostly “ups,” as far as dad’s peace, covered most of his 8 years living with ALZ. My sister then took a job in NYC and subsequently moved to NYC and this is where I came in…Got a phone call from my mom one night and she asked me if I would consider moving to their home in Scottsdale to help her care for my father as she couldn’t do it alone and did not want my dad to be in a Specialty Home for ALZ patients…I called my mom’s request being “called up to the BIG LEAGUE” and the decision was a no-brainer…off to Scottsdale I went…
The year that followed brought so many happy times with my Dad. He was peaceful and content. Family came and went each month. My dad’s ability to communicate was impacted by ALZ so he said maybe a dozen or so words over his final year, but his eyes spoke volumes and his smile filled any room he was in…we knew he was peacefully living in a world none of us knew (in his head), but all we cared about was making sure he was peaceful.
I spent a lot of time researching ALZ and trying to learn all I could about this horrible disease. Honestly felt helpless not being able to do more for my dad, but knowing I was doing all that was medically available to him based on current research.
My dad passed away on July 30th, 2012, peacefully, with his 9 children and wife by his side. His journey with the horrible disease was complete.