Running for Dad
My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia in October of 2018. The devastating news hit me hard and rocked my world. I did not know how to process this information, so I started running… I wanted to run as far as I could from this new information about my father, my best friend.
As the days and months went by I pretended to be strong. I had built a wall around myself. I would keep running. I would be strong. I would be strong like my father.
Alzheimer’s is called the long goodbye and in many ways it is, but my father's death also felt sudden to me. Like a complete shock. How could he be gone from my world, how would I carry on without him? I had spent every day with my father the week before his death, I expected the news, yet it felt like all the air had been sucked out of my lungs.
More than 4 years have passed since that official diagnosis. During that time, my father forgot everything that he once adored, he forgot how to play his favorite card games, he lost interest in things that he once loved, he forgot the simple daily acts we take for granted; the disease robbed my father of knowing that my mother, his high school sweetheart, was his wife of over 50 years and that he had two daughters that he adored — and finally, it robbed him of his life.
After the initial shock of my father's death wore off, I immediately went back to running, it was my time to cry, to scream… to try to let out the sadness and rage that was buried deep inside me. However after my father’s death I started noticing things on my runs that I didn’t before. Something was different, I was more aware of my surroundings. I noticed the birds the most, they were everywhere. Hawks soaring above, often in 3’s, cardinals on branches singing louder than I’ve ever heard before… It was then that I realized Dad was running with me. He was letting me know he was ok and to keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other.
I spent so much time with my father over the coarse of his illness and my journey with my father taught me: Alzheimer's changes things, it is a brutal, cruel disease, it steals your memories and robs you of all that you love but there is still a person inside. A beautiful person, that feels things deeply and misses the people and things they can’t remember. A person that so desperately wants to remember and is terrified and heartbroken that they can’t. Every day is a struggle, but they keep putting one foot in front of the other.
My time together with my father as he so bravely navigated this illness inspired me and shaped who I am today. My father's journey affected me deeply and made me proud to be on this incredibly difficult journey with him.
I will be running 26.2 miles on October 8th 2023 to honor my father. All you can do is keep going, step by step. But instead of running from the grief, I will run with it. I will carry it with me. I will honor my father's struggle and show the same courage and strength that he did. This marathon is not a race. It is a journey, like my father's journey. There is no true finish line, and it is never really over, but at some point, the pain subsides and good memories come to the forefront of your mind.
It has been a little over a year since my father's death and I am working on letting go of the memories of the sick times and the grief and remembering my dad for the person he was. Today, and everyday, I still feel the loss—it will always be there—but now I am comforted by remembering the happy times.
I will be strong, I will keep moving forward and I will do it for my Dad.
By participating in this event, I've committed to raising awareness and funds to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association®.
Currently, more than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease and that number is expected to grow to nearly 13 million by 2050. Our future is at risk and we must come together to change the course of this disease.
Please support my efforts by making a donation. All funds raised benefit the Alzheimer's Association and its work to enhance care and support programs and advance research toward methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Thank you for joining the fight against Alzheimer’s disease!