Keep Going. Don’t Give Up!
Below we are introduced to Mr. Ben and his struggle with Alzheimer’s, as well as his daughter’s experience transitioning into his main caregiver.
As an advocate not only for my dad, and for all individuals effected by Alzheimer’s, their caregivers, family members, and organizations who offer their resources and support in effort educate our society about Alzheimer’s—I am here to share one man’s journey who has never been alone, instead continues to walk with Jesus every day, in order to inspire many and share his journey.
I am honored to share with all of you a few simple words of inspiration and hope.
For many, many years my dad served the Lord in his role as a Primitive Baptist preacher. He began pastoring at the age of 27. He shared his love of Jesus through the churches he pastured, thru the fellowship with his congregation and all of those individuals he came in contact with over the years.
He traveled throughout Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and North Carolina, speaking with confidence and eloquence rejoicing in God’s glory, moving an entire congregation to their feet by sharing his love of Jesus. Bringing sinners to grace and helping them to understand God’s power and love, blessing the elderly and feeble—regardless of color, economic status, or denomination.
In previous years, there were subtle signs that Dad was having difficulties both in speech and remembering things. But I figured, that is what old people do. . .they forget, right? After the passing of my stepmom in 2006, is when I realized it was much more than age, it was apparent that behind that door of uncertainty, stood something that would change our lives forever. What also became evident was that my stepmom had been his caregiver for many years prior to her passing.
Over the next few years, traveling to his church for Sunday Morning service became a chore and often he became lost. He’d have to pull off the road and call my brother to come get him, because he could not remember his way. It was soon after that, that the church decided to ask him to step down as their pastor.
This was one of the darkest moments of his life.
However, he understood that this was God’s plan. Distraught and saddened, he became withdrawn. This spiraled his other disorders downward and he was in need of help and support during this difficult time.
It was time to make a change, to transition from the role of daughter to caregiver. Without hesitation, full of uncertainty, I accepted this role. I believe that God placed his hand on me and filled my heart with the courage to step forward. I at that moment realized that God, indeed, had a plan for me.
At that moment and time, not realizing all of the sadness and joy that would fill my heart along this journey. I placed my hand within his and began a new, empowering, inspiring journey with my dad.
In 2010, my husband and I traveled to Panama City, Florida to move my father back to North Carolina. What was many a time a family vacation—now became a road never traveled. With fear, doubt, and uncertainty, every mile closer to my dad’s house there came questions that I could not answer. I decided that even though, I had no answers—bringing my Dad back to North Carolina was the right thing to do in order to best care for him.
Returning to North Carolina did not mean returning to our normal lives. Our family’s journey had just begun. Aware of the needs of my dad, became at times overwhelming. Daddy’s sadness was apparent, but he understood that this was God’s plan for him.
Now, we share our own special gathering around our dinner table as Daddy gives prayer and thanks to all of what God has giving us. And, yes, he still brings us who are around the table to our feet. He inspires with a simple and sincere prayer.
Lovingly calling me Momma—Daddy speaks a little more slowly now. He doesn’t read his bible anymore, but I believe that all of those sermons, all of those late nights of reading his Bible has carried him through some of the most difficult and darkest moments of his life.
Over the years, transition has become simpler. Questions have become replaced with answers or at least understood. Uncertainty has been replaced with patience and love.
Communication at best is still at times difficult. Nonetheless, what goes unspoken is always shared through hugs, butterfly kisses, and holding of hands to reassure each other know that it is okay and all is understood.