My beloved Pathfinder is going to the junkyard this week. I've had it since Memorial Day weekend of 1994 and driven it a hair under 150,000 miles. (It saddens me to think it will never reach that milestone.) I am sure, in my heart, that we see those we loved again on the other side. Everyone with pets knows about the rainbow bridge (look it up, bring tissues). A while back, I talked about the Elsewhere Bar, where those with dementia and Alzheimer's go to find themselves again after death. I'm sure my dad's the greeter, slapping them on the back and helping them find a seat. Outside in the field, of course, are all our pets, and other loved ones wander about doing whatever it is one does in whatever form of heaven one believes in.
But where's my car? I love my car almost as much as I love my pets. I can't bear to think that it's being cubed/crushed (after being an organ donor--they're taking everything worth anything off it first) and that's it, just like I can't bear to think that death is just a candle going out and there's nothing on the other side. (Belief in heaven is the only thing stopping me from being an atheist.) So I've added a new territory, of sorts, to my concept of heaven, and now the Elsewhere Bar has a parking lot. My dad's old Corvette can hang out with my Pathfinder, and any other cars that were much beloved when they were on the road.
As I kept going in Meriden Hyundai trying out cars and talking to various sales people, it got easier not to see my dad there. Easier to say "I'm Bob's daughter" and realize the person I'm talking to didn't know him. But oftentimes in the process (which still isn't over) I got frustrated. I wanted my father, just so he could EXPLAIN things to me. So I'd know no one was ripping me off. Not that they would, but I am paranoid when I'm spending that much money.
(Today is also a sad milestone. It's been a year since I had a bird. Maybe that's why I'm sitting around thinking about death.)
Today, September 21, is World Alzheimer's Day. But like with any disease, no one pays any attention to it until it affects them personally, or someone they know very well.
The link (which goes to the Alzheimer's Association website) contains many things you can do today, like write to Congress, and astonishing facts on dementia:
Dementia care costs around 1 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy (ranking between Turkey and Indonesia).
By 2030, worldwide societal costs will increase by 85 percent (a very conservative estimate considering only increases in the number of people with dementia).
My father's 1253-day journey through Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and my feelings about it. All material is copyrighted by Gevera Bert Piedmont (except where noted and where quoted from other sources); please do not repost without permission.
"The cost of Alzheimer's? Everything you ever owned, everything you ever thought you would get, and things you never even thought about."
"It's a long, slow slide into oblivion, with no brakes."
"If this was a paper journal, the ink would be running with tears."
"Imagine a really beautiful, perfect statue, left out in the wind and rain for centuries, to be worn away, until it’s only retained the shape of a person, not any of the individuality. That’s what Alzheimer’s did to my father. It wore him away, all the sharp edges and crisp points that made him Bob, who loved his family and his pets and his raspberry bushes, and turned him into a fearful person with a vague and confused stare."
"It's a nasty disease, surrounded by shadows and small, largely unseen tragedies."--Terry Pratchett
This is a reminder that Alzheimer's disease affects real people, real families. My dad wasn't a monster, just a man whose brain was slowly eaten by a terrible disease.