| By Tracie Moy |
Many of us know someone or have had a loved one with a dementia disorder, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease. Personally speaking, it’s a terrible disease to behold. My grandpa, Papa Sam “the handyman,” died from complications due to Alzheimer’s and I miss him.
When my daughter was eight months old, I took her to Florida specifically to visit my grandpa. I wanted the two of them to meet, as I knew his time was limited. Upon our arrival, he asked my grandma if I was the driver that was hired to tote them around Delray Beach (he also mentioned how nice I was!); sadly, I wasn’t their chauffeur.
At that moment, I became acutely, and perhaps selfishly, aware that I was a distant memory.
Poppy, as we called him, would never realize he met his first great-grandchild, even as I watched him rock her in his arms. His disposition was entirely different; he looked so small. I was left to wonder if this was the same man who loved his family unconditionally, who could fix anything, who proudly photographed his children and grandchildren. Was this the same Papa Sam who owned a Getty gas station on Long Island (where I cartwheeled on the pavement as a kid), who had cocktail hour precisely at 5 o’clock every evening after retirement, who was the epitome of organization? For me, the answer was both yes and no; he was, and he wasn’t. By no fault of his own, he was forever changed.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 50 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and Alzheimer’s is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Share your story, get involved, and join the fight.