The Boring Word About The Person I Most Admire

October 23, 1985

Recently my daughter Michelle was assigned to write a composition for English about the person she most admires. I was touched when she told me she had chosen “Pap-Pap” as her subject. When asked why she decided to write about her grandfather she replied “because he tries so hard.”

Having watched my Dad, a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease, change so drastically over the last six years, my daughter’s response caught me off guard. While I’ve focused in on the things he can no longer do and how much I miss “him,” she has kept in tune with who he is now and how hard he works at the things he still can accomplish.

I could write a never-ending list of all the things this terrible disease has taken from Dad, but there are things he still enjoys.

While he can no longer carry on a conversation he loves to say hello to people he sees at the office or store and even when he can’t recall who they are he is pleased that someone knows him.

Physically, he’s in pretty good shape and enjoys walking the dog, playing miniature golf or pool and even hit a tennis ball around this summer.

There is no way to measure the wealth Dad possesses because of the people who genuinely care about him and go out of their way to ‘make’ his day. They are in the office, banks, post office, super markets, drug stores, barber shops, District Magistrate’s Office, municipal building, schools, churches, restaurants, doctor’s office and his neighborhood. It would be impossible not to mention his family, especially his wife who makes everyday for him – but that could be another column.

Julie, my seven year old, wonders if Pap-Pap has always had Alzheimer’s Disease, to her its been forever. Its times like these I want to say, “I wish you could have know him ‘when’……he could fly a kite as high as the clouds, fix any toy, make up funny songs, play checkers, monopoly, chess and make everything right in the world – at least for a while. But the ‘when’ has turned into ‘now’ – and “he tries so hard.”