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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

When you're not quite sure how to talk about it.

I feel like I keep coming in here every once in a while and dropping a doozy of a post on you. A big, heartfelt, deep-type post. I don't know when, or if I'll ever get back to my freestyle-happy-go-lucky-blog-about-my-girls-with-pretty-pictures-thing. Maybe I will. Heck, it could happen tomorrow if the bug bites. But right now I'm still just, you know, sort of around. I do want to say, though--thank you. Really. The true, heartfelt, meaningful comments I got on my last post were amazing. And the emails. This time, there were (a lot more) emails. And you made me feel loved, needed and wanted in this little blog community. So thanks.

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. 

****


79 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear this. I can't even imagine how tough this would be on you all. I will be praying.

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  2. Prayers for your Daddy & family!!!

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  3. Katie, your heartfelt posts are some of the best to read! I know it's not easy trying to remain optimistic but your family is so strong and it's amazing how you all stick together. You're a lucky girl to have such a wonderful dad. Keep those posts coming.

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  4. My heart is breaking for you and your family. I choked back tears while reading this post as I can't be a blubbering mess at work. Alzheimers has effected my family very closely also. I know. I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers. Lots of love.

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  5. So many many prayers for your father, your family, and you. My grandfather had Alzheimers and it was hard to witness. He, like your dad, was an amazing businessman and also built a company with a little idea. That company fed me, clothed me, and carried my family through our entire lives. It also is where I worked, my brother worked, my cousins worked, and many of my aunts and uncles have working and are still working. Anyways, I know how hard this can be. I'll be thinking of you.... and I know you'll cherish everything. I wish so much that I had spent so much more time.

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  6. Katie,
    i will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers. sending lots of love your way!

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  7. OH - I am so sorry to hear this news. You brought many tears to my eyes. This is such a challenging disease for all involved. Really, really soak up the time you all have together - make those everlasting memories for everyone. So glad you have a strong family and community to lean on. The blogging community is always here for you - vent, share, discuss - whatever you need.
    I know I have not commented much but I have always followed your posts enjoyed them so much - your truth and honesty. I am glad to see you sharing this time in your life - thank you. It will do doubt help others.
    I am sending so much love, positive thoughts and strength to you and your family.
    Much love - Chey xo

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  8. I know your pain. My mom has Parkinson's dementia. My thoughts are with your family as your fathers condition progresses. Hugs.

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  9. So sorry to hear about all this! I didn't realize something was going on with your family, but I had noticed that you haven't been blogging lately. I know this has to be tough on y'all. Hope you have a good week and you get your blogging mo-jo back, but if you don't right now, that's ok. I'll send a little prayer up for your family!

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  10. Beautifully put, Katie. Praying for you and your family.

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  11. Oh Katie I'm so sorry to hear this. You have an amazing family with so much love for each other and I know your dad feels all that love and support to his core. I'll be praying for you and your family.

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  12. Still praying, sweet friend! *hugs*

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  13. dang. i cannot/don't even want to imagine. grateful we serve a big God. praying for you and your family and your sweet daddy.

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  15. My heart goes out to you and your family.

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  16. I am so sorry to hear this Katie. Praying for you all

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  17. Oh Katie, I am so very sorry to hear that. My grandmother had Altzheimers in her 60's, so I know a little of what your family is going through. I will be keeping you all in my prayers

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  18. So sorry to hear this. I will be praying for your entire family.

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  19. Very sorry to hear about this. :( I am praying for him... For your whole family! Be strong and lean on God as always.

    *hugs*

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  20. I am so sorry to hear about your dad's diagnosis. I spent some time doing research in that area and it's such a tricky and unpredictable disease to treat. My grandmother just passed away from it this December and you can bet I am just as worried that my father will suffer the same fate. It's scary, but your Dad is so blessed to have the love and support of his family around him. It may not be an easy road, but he knows he is loved.

    Keeping you guys in my thoughts.

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  21. Sending prayers and thoughts your way.

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  22. Oh Katie, I had tears in my eyes while reading this. I am so sorry to learn about your dad's diagnosis and I will absolutely keep your family in my prayers. Xoxo.

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  23. Beautifully written Katie! We love your mom and dad and continue to pray for healing, grace and peace for all of you!

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  24. just remember to take in every single moment you have with him. cherish it all. and the moments he shares with your beautiful girls.
    my grandpa had it. just remember to be patient. loving. and caring. thats what they need. my prayers are with you and your family.

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  25. Katie, I don't even know what to say.... I don't want to say I'm sorry that you're going through this because it just doesn't seem like enough... But I am sorry that you and your sweet family are dealing with this health burden. I cried reading your post just because my mind does tend to go too far forward and even though I only know you through the blogging world I feel like I know you and am slightly invested in your family... I also couldn't help but hope that the other night when we chatted through IG in the wee hours of the morning maybe it helped keep your mind off this and helped your heart feel better. My deepest and scariest thoughts and worries tend to come at that hour so you know... I'll be praying for you, your family, your dad and the doctors. Sending love my friend.

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  26. My thoughts, prayers & love to you guys and your family!

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  27. So sorry to hear this, Katie..... I will be keeping him and your family in my prayers. It sounds like you all have really rallied around one another and taken this opportunity to truly love/enjoy each other.

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  29. Sending prayers your way love.
    xo

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  30. So glad you put this out there for everyone. Know that you have continually been in my thoughts and every picture I would see with him in it, I would smile knowing another joyous memory has been created. For you. For your family. Take care!

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  31. Oh hun. I'm so sorry - but yet so glad to hear of the path your father is taking, and how your family is handling it together.

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  32. Oh, Katie, I am so so sorry. I will be praying for you and your family. Praying for the kind of strength and peace that can only come from Him.

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  33. I have tears in my eyes as I read this. Your Dad sounds like an absolutely amazing man. What a blessing he is to your family and community. I will be praying for y'all as this journey continues. Praying for peace. Slow progression. Memories. Love. Happiness.

    While reading this post I started thinking about your gift behind the lens - it is God given so you can beautifully capture these memories your family is making! I'm certain that the pictures you can taken of yours Dad and his beautiful spirit will bless your entire family as you move forward with this diagnosis.

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  34. gah, i hate this for y'all. my nana had this disease ... for probably 40 years ... they just didn't know how to diagnose it that long ago. it was terribly sad to watch. but at the same time so sweet to see my grandad care for her in their home all those years. the good thing is that there is so many new developments in medication that hopefully will help him. also, if you haven't done so the alzheimer's association has tons of resources and walks to raise money for research, etc ... http://act.alz.org/site/PageServer?pagename=walk_homepage ... life is so hard sometimes.

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  35. Oh Katie. I'm so sorry. I'm tearing up reading this because MY own father is so very important to me and he just turned 80 and although he is in good health, he is getting older and well, time is a b!tch sometimes.

    I hope that you have many more wonderful days ahead with your father and that this diagnosis doesn't keep you from enjoying him and him you and your family.

    Much love and prayers...

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  36. Oh Katie... Tears, tears and more tears. May the Lord bless your dad and your family as you all seize each and every day you have with him present. I cannot even begin to imagine. I am so thankful that you all have a personal relationship with the One who heals and loves your daddy even more than you do. I will definitely be keeping you and your family in my prayers. Lots of love and hugs!

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  37. Oh Katie, I will certainly be praying for you, your family and your Dad. I've been through this process with my Grandma and where it was difficult at times, it was always important to us and especially my Mom to continue doing "things." Family became even more important, time became even more precious and we just did what we could to support my Mom. Hang in there.

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  38. Many many prayers for your Family and especially your mom and dad. We are facing the same situation with Jer's grandfather, and i pray for your road to be gentle, and that you will all be strengthened!!

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  39. Your Dad sounds like an amazing man

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  40. I am so very sorry. I know all too well how much dementia can affect a family. Both my grandfather and a great aunt had dementia for years and we started noticing problems wiht my mom's memory in 2011. Oh how I wish that would have been Alzheimer's, but that wasn't the case. She had brain cancer which she valiently fought and lost the battle way too quickly. Take this time to cherish with your Daddy. It is so hard, but you will never regret this time.

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  42. I'm so sorry to hear this, Katie. Thankful for your pastors, family, and friends to help you process. While I miss reading your blog, take all the time you need to process and think. We'll be here when you get back. :) I'll be praying for your family, especially your parents, as they walk down this unknown road.

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  43. This makes my heart hurt for your family. One of my best friend's has been dealing with this for 8 years with her dad & it is heartbreaking. Praying for your daddy & for the rest of your family!

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  44. What a tough diagnosis. I'm so glad you've been able to take those trips and spend time with him now! I'm praying for you and your family and especially your dad.

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  45. Sending many prayers your way. Your daddy sounds like such a wonderful man. Glad you are continuing to make memories with him and that your family has pulled together. Hugs.

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  46. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts Katie. Its such a hard thing to go through, and just as hard to watch a loved parent go through. xoxo

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  47. Alzheimers and dementia are so hard for so many reasons--take lots of photos (I am sure you are!) and write down all the little stories, because they are so easy to forget (I wish I'd done this with my grandparents but I was certain I'd never forget the stories and didn't need to make sure they were written down).

    Will be praying for your family Katie!

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  48. This post brought tears to my eyes. praying for your family as you navigate this new and delicate journey. xxoo

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  49. You guys have my thoughts and prayers.

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  50. I vaguely remember you blogging that some family stuff was going on that you couldn't talk about. It came back to me while reading this, you've been dealing with a heavy load for a long long time.

    I have zero experience with Alzheimer's but I have a lot of experience with a sick Dad and worrying about my Dad's health. It is heavy and really hard and my heart goes out to you and each and every member of your family. You are making the most of the time that you have which is truly the most any of us can hope to do with our lives.

    Your Dad is an amazing man and it's obvious that he lives his life in such a way that he will never ever be forgotten. Thinking about him now I remember your sisters blog and their trips to Africa. He's made a real difference in the world both by his own actions and with the children he raised. I'm sure he's so proud of you. I am so so sorry to hear this.

    Praying for you all.

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  51. Oh, this brought tears to my eyes. I'm a daddy's girl too and I can't imagine how you're feeling about all this. Please know you have a huge community of people behind you, sending lots of loving thoughts your way.

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  52. I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. That is such a blow. I'm sure you guys will make many wonderful memories in the years to come!!!

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  53. Katie,

    This was a tough post to read, as I always fear my mother having Alzheimers because my grandma suffered from it.I will be intentional about praying for you and your family.

    I just want to say, I sat down to e-mail you yesterday, but didn't. I totally respect your choice to be a bit silent these days. BUT I miss you! Strange being said by a stranger... but I truly miss your posts. I was always able to connect to your feelings and I adore seeing pictures of your family. Thank you for the heartfelt post today.

    Prayers for you and your family!
    Jenna

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  54. Still praying, friend. Love you and I'm so glad you were able to finally talk about this here. You have so many people who love you and will pray for you!

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  55. I sure am sorry to hear this. Alzheimer's is the worst kind of disease. My Grannie had it. I hope that you and your family have the best times together ahead. Get all the stories videoed or written down somewhere for safekeeping.

    And you girls are in my prayers and you have my love.

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  56. I am so sad to read this today. My heart hurts for you and I will be praying hard for you sweet friend, and your entire family, as you travel down this road together.

    Hugs to you,
    Corinn

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  57. Oh sweetie I am so sorry t read that your dad isn't well. He sounds like a pretty wonderful guy & your Momma sounds equally as amazing! I will pray for his health.

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  58. Hugs, love and prayers sweet friend.

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  59. I'm so sorry about this. I am sending up prayers your way. I have personally dealt with alzheimers/dementia all too much in my life. Its not fun. But having a loving and supportive family and strong faith is the best and only way to get through it. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Umm... seriously though.. your family is all so good looking. At least you can smile about that, right?

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  60. This made me tear up. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man! Thinking of you and your family.

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  61. Oh Katie, my heart breaks for you and your family. Prayers for all of you. I know the reality of this as my grandmother was diagnosed with the same 10 years ago. I still remember it not long after I had moved away from home. Creating those memories are ever so important and you will always cherish them.

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  62. Alzheimer's is the worst. The absolute freaking worst. I'm so sorry, Katie. We deal with this with my grandpa but he's 89, I can't imagine dealing with it with my parents especially at such a young age. I'm going to pray because really, praying is all you can do.

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  63. Katie, I am so so sorry. :( Your dad seems like an amazing man, I have thought that before this post, too. Your whole family. And you can tell that you love him SO much, just hearing you talk about him. I can't imagine going through this w/ my dad at only 57 years old (any age, but you know what i mean). Praying for your family. HUGS.

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  64. New follower here- praying for your dad, you, and your family. So glad y'all are taking trips and making memories. These memories with your dad will be so precious.

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  65. Oh Katie I'm so sorry! I'm glad you were able to share your story and I hope you'll continue to do so. Your family sounds amazing and, I must admit, at times I am jealous of how close you all are. Your dad has a great support system, that's for sure. Praying for your family.

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  66. Praying for your daddy & entire family!

    He sounds like an amazing man!

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  67. I have limited experience with Alzheimer's. I hope through medicine you can have many more happy years with the wonderful father you have. I'm so sorry you and your family are dealing with this. I'll send my prayers your dad's way.

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  68. Oh Katie, I am just sitting here reading this and crying. My heart seriously hurts for you. What an amazing father you have!! All of you will be in my prayers as you continue to walk this journey. xo

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  69. I will keep your family in my prayers. It is so great that he has an amazing support system. Two of my grandparents had Alzheimer's and it is so hard. Thinking of you all.

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  70. Thoughts and prayers for your entire family, but especially your dad. My family has been through something similar, so I know how important it is to stick together through this. You are very lucky to have each other. Please keep us updated time-to-time on how you are all doing with this topic.

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  71. After I read your post, It was "suggested" to me to read another post...called "one day at a time". I think in every season of life it's more than important to remember to enjoy one day at a time. We (all...everyone in the world) can get so caught up in worries, and then miss all the opportunities that are right in front of us. And as much as "earthquakes" can rock our worlds, they are there to help us to put our trust and faith in God and live in these moments, not in fear of them. Love you lady!

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  72. You are in my prayers. I know first hand that seeing your dad struggle or deal with anything that is illness related is very tough. Keep your chin up, be strong for him & your mom.

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  73. What a nice post for your Dad. My prayers are with you and your family!

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  74. I have been following your blog for ages - you even inspired me to start a blog of my own for my kids - but I've never left a comment. But my family has had more than its fair share of experience with Alzheimer's and I am so sorry to hear the news about your Dad. The "A" word is bad enough but early on-set - my heart broke for you.

    I will pray for you and your family. Enjoy every moment as a family!

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  75. it sucks. My grandpa at the age of 72 was just diagnosed last year with early on-set alzheimers. Praying things do not get worse!

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  76. oh man. I am in tears reading this Katie. Im really sorry he and your family have this to endure. You guys are firmly in my thoughts xxxxxx

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  77. Katie,
    I must have missed this. I am so sorry to read this. Praying.

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