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(personal) My dad and Alzheimer’s disease

young dad and me before AlzheimersWhat you probably didn’t know (unless you’ve been following my daily Facebook Live videos for the last 3 weeks) is that my brilliant father has Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

 

This is the brainiac attorney who went to college and law school on full academic scholarship… he nabbed a perfect score on the Law School Admissions Test when he took it on a lark.

 

He raised me on conversations of Constitutional Law and Civil Rights for as long as I can remember.

 

He has declined so rapidly this year that last night his wife put him on a plane to her home town in Ohio, where he can receive a higher level of institutional care than we could find in Southern California.

 

It is no longer possible for him to live at home. And I am grateful for her heroic efforts to keep him in his house for as long as possible.

 

I am just so sad to see the sharp dad I knew disappear. This is breaking my heart in a million pieces.

 

This is life. We will ALL experience loss like this if we are privileged to live long enough.

 

Some of the wonderful things I learned from dad:

 

1) Speak to homeless people. Don’t just give money (but give money). Also give warmth and attention.

 

2) Vote for the political party that fights for civil rights, even if the other party is offering tax cuts that might benefit you. (Dad used to organize civil rights marches in the 60’s.)

 

3) Get good grades. Research facts. Be prepared to argue to support your views, even if you’re 5 years old.

 

4) The best movies break out into song, a la “Singing in the Rain.”

 

I am feeling deep wonder and gratitude for all the things that are going right, even during a time of heart break. How fortunate I am is pretty incredible. I can’t believe how many bullets we’ve dodged.

My father invested for decades into long term care insurance that will pay for his Alzheimer’s care. He’ll be able to get quality care for his insurance’s budget in Ohio (alas, not in SoCal).

Dad has a wife who genuinely loves him and has been taking care of him, who will live blocks away from his assisted care so she can see him every day.

I was blessed with a dad who loves me, who saved up for my college education from the day I was born, who stepped up as both dad and mom when my mother became too abusive and dangerous to have in my life. I’m really fortunate.

I’m doubly blessed to have my loving partner by my side to be my soft landing when things hurt.

So even as I spent my last Los Angeles day with my dad yesterday, and I may feel a deep loss as it sinks in that he’s no longer accessible to me here, and I’m anxious about what issues his house/estate may bring up in future months, I also feel that this couldn’t have played out much better than it has, and I’m grateful for my good fortune.

 

Namaste,

 

PS I always thought my dad was the normal-ish parent while my mom was the crazy, artsy one. But it was my dad who chose my weird, witchy name “Morgana.”

PPS Dad was fairly lucid on Saturday, so I was able to shoot this  very short video of us:

 


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