Today though? I want to dedicate an entire post to my dad. I want to preface this first by saying that I asked permission from both him and my momma to do this, as I only have the utmost respect and love for them.
About two years ago at our family vacation it started to become really clear to us that my Daddy was having some issues. Mainly with recalling things, being a little repetitive, and some confusion with the new surroundings at our beach house. It was then that the entire family began to worry a little more seriously about my dads health. You see, outwardly--he is healthy and looks it. He eats well, he exercises. He shed a lot of excess weight years ago and has done a really great job keeping it off.
I don't talk much about this here, but my dad is a very successful entrepreneur. He is, at his core, an amazing businessman. He built an incredible business out of nothing but a little idea. He is the smartest man I know. He is talented. So talented. An amazing public speaker. A loving and tenderhearted grandfather. A loyal and trusting husband. He dedicated the last 40 years of his life to the volunteer fire industry, where he served his community with no hesitation. Where he spent weekends training and teaching new firefighters, or taking new courses. He spent the last 16 years being in some sort of Fire Chief role at his department. He is such a natural leader at heart.
But mostly, he's a family man. He loves us all so well.
After we began to see those issues with my Dad, my mom and him consulted the best doctors and started a series of testing to get to the bottom of what we were dealing with. Our world was rocked when my young, passionate, hardworking, amazing businessman of a daddy was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers disease at only 57 years old.
gulp. this is the part where I choke back tears...
This has been my families burden to carry for the last year and a half. It has been a load. Fear, pain, having good days, bad days, seeing declines, going on trips on a whim because we need to, we have to, creating memories, just being together a lot, whatever. I am so glad to have an awesome family that loves well and cares, and while we're a work in progress, we've been there for one another, and mostly for my Dad. We're so grateful for pastors and close friends who have been there this last year in supporting our family and helping to lighten to the load when no one else knew what was going on.
In the last week my Dad has made the official announcements of his diagnosis publicly to both his entire business and his fire department, with his family by his side. It's just necessary as it becomes more noticeable and for people to be aware, sensitive and understanding of what's going on.
He has been so strong and amazing through it all. Doing this is NOT an easy thing to do, yet he did it with dignity. He has stepped down from being an official "officer" in his fire department, but was honored with the "Chief Emeritus" title for his long time service, commitment, and passion to help others. I had tears in my eyes seeing him honored in that way, in the way he deserved, at the ceremony last Thursday.
As a daughter, I could not be more proud of my daddy. For the way he is handling all of this. For all his success in his life and willingness to serve and love and volunteer in the ways that he has. For the incredible person he is. The seriously amazing, out-of-this-world Pop Pop he is to my girls and his other grandchildren. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about that. And my mom? Well she is amazing, simply put. While this has all been, admittedly, the hardest on her, she is a rock and I'm so grateful for their love and her support to my dad when he needs it most.
It's no secret that there is a challenging road ahead for my family and for my dad. But we just can't go there yet. Because we're too busy enjoying this time with him. Right here. Right now. In this moment.
For now, though--you can pray for him, for us.