Alzheimer’s Cannot Steal my Father’s Peace

In the midst of loving someone with Alzheimer's, God grace shines through

In the midst of loving someone with Alzheimer’s, God grace shines through

My dad is a brilliant civil engineer who has overseen countless building projects, road construction and city designs and he can’t remember where he lives nor that he built the house in the first place.  My dad is an amazing musician who sings the Lord’s Prayer in a way guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes and when listening to a recording of an old 8mm wedding program remarks, “Boy that man can sing!” never noticing it is his own voice.

My dad got to hand me my Master's Degree Diploma, years ago. What a special moment for us both!

My dad got to hand me my Master’s Degree Diploma, years ago. What a special moment for us both!

My dad is a planner, paid over the years to plan developments, head up church remodeling  projects and supervise bridgework and he depends upon my mom to tell him it’s time to sit down to eat and when he’s done looks up to ask what’s next. 

My dad is a University professor who was known to throw chalk at sleeping students and yet work until 3 a.m. with those same students on their senior projects so they could graduate and he cannot remember whether the pants should go on before or after the shoes.  My dad spent countless hours fundraising in order to help a group of students install a water system for an orphanage in Guatemala and another group buy and operate an ambulance boat in Bangladesh and he cannot figure out how to raise the footrest on his easy chair.

This is what Alzheimer’s does.

My dad is a deeply spiritual man, who has taught me everything about the complete love of a Creator God who gave His only Son for ME.  The same God who turned my dad’s life around from a street kid into a professor.  The God who gave a homeless child a family of four children and a God who bestows unconditional love on each of us, without discrimination or recrimination.  My dad taught me that faith is a choice we make and that we can give thanks in EVERYTHING, because God has a bigger and better plan than we can possibly imagine.  In times of trouble, my dad taught me to pray – to seek the wiser counsel of my Redeemer and to trust Him in all things; to relax in His peace.

But now he has Alzheimer’s.

And when we are chatting and my dad’s sentences do not make sense and I cannot follow the track his thoughts are following, he wraps it up with a quiet, “But we’re ok, because God is good.”

And when I’m talking to him and he realizes my mom is out of the room he looks around and asks, “Where’d she go?”  I know if I ask him her name, he won’t remember, but he remembers he can depend on her and he will look at me and say, “She’ll be back.”  And after a slight pause he will add, “God has been so good to us.”

And when our family is all there and we’re chattering, he cannot take in all our noise, but when we bow our heads for prayer, and out of tradition and respect we await my dad’s blessing, he gives it.

He prays in thoughtful phrases liberally sprinkled with love and gratefulness and with petitions for our Lord’s soon return.  And when he looks up from prayer and sees his whole family holding hands and praying with him, there are tears in his eyes.

Because God has blessed us.  Dad has taught us to be grounded in God’s grace.

And Alzheimer’s cannot take that away.

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Read more in the series 31 Days of Unexpected Blessings from Caregiving

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