My father struggles with Alzheimer’s. Though he is still alive, he might as well be gone, because he no longer remembers me. The fact that I am in Utah and he in California does not help, because when I am there in person there are sometimes glimmers of recognition. But that no longer exists in phone calls.
The example that he set for me is something that I will never forget. He was always such a giving person sometimes to the point of fault. His life was spent in service to others. He spent over 30 years of service as a Boy Scout leader in some capacity. An avid Little Leaguer, he worked with each of my three brother's teams, spending countless hours between April and July at the ball park, coaching or as an umpire for all the years they played.
Camping, hiking and the great outdoors were always important to him. When he was no longer a scoutmaster, he took over for the girls. The hikes were shorter, but his love of nature and hiking was something that he shared with hundreds of young people.
My father's affinity for people was sometimes embarrassing. He had the uncanny ability to start a conversation with a perfect stranger and within twenty minutes, you would swear that he was talking to a long-lost, best friend. He had a wonderful sense of humor. Though after many years we finally knew all of his high school and war stories, it did not make them any less entertaining.
If anyone needed help, my dad was always right there.His deep love for my mother and his children was a standard that was difficult to follow. I knew that no matter what happened in my life, he would be there for me. Whether it was to rescue us from a broken down van in the middle of the desert, or to help my husband figure out how to do some electrical wiring in our home, by dad was there to help.
My father had an impressive love of learning that I feel was passed on to me. He was constantly buying and reading books. At the tender age of 16, he left high school to serve his country, lying so that he would be able to fight in WW II. He would be confused by the lack of patriotism evident in so many places today, including the views expressed by some of his own grandchildren.
Leaving school at such any early age did not deter him. Using the GI bill, he went back and became a civil engineer, His own perseverance an example to me as I struggled to finish college and get a teaching credential while I was in my forties. I speak of my father in the past tense, though he is still alive. Besides his memory, Alzheimer's has robbed him of much of his personality. He is no longer the Dad that I remember. Yet even in this condition, I still admire him for his perseverance. He may be confused, but he continues each day, facing the challenges that life continues to put in his way. Striving to be excellent and living his best life in the only way he knows. I appreciate him as much as ever as he goes through this last phase of life, always an example to me and the rest of his family. I write this because I doubt that he would understand why, if I tried to call and wish him a special day. Letting the world know what an incredible person he is the best way I know of wishing him a Happy Father's Day.