This February, my Grandpa Rottschafer passed away seven years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In no uncertain terms, everything about it was hard. It was hard to say goodbye to Grandpa, and it was hard to watch what happened to his mind and body. It was hard for me to move to college, and eventually away for work – I missed seeing Grandpa, and the progression appeared so drastic whenever I got the chance. It was hard for my parents, and especially for Grandma, who lovingly sustained Grandpa at home and experienced the day-to-day nuances. Alzheimer’s takes away your loved ones before actually taking them away.
Speaking of hard, Grandpa was the hardest worker I knew. He would do anything to provide for his family, and never asked for anything in return. Whether it was sneaking Kelly and me $20s during high school, or paying Dad in increasing numbers of Benjamins for haircuts, or bringing an excess of freshly caught fish over for Sunday dinner, Grandpa’s generosity and dedication were hallmarks of his character. Grandpa made it very, very clear how much he loved his family. As the only two grandkids, Kelly and I were perhaps a bit spoiled, since Grandpa would stock the house with treats, take us fishing, take us strawberry picking, take us out for donuts, take us out for ice cream flurries…you get the picture. But more importantly, he always made sure to tell us. No visit or phone call was complete without “Grandpa loves you”. Even Alzheimer’s never took away “Grandpa loves you”.
After its effect on our family, we are honoring Grandpa in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 9. It is important to us to donate and raise awareness, but most importantly, to keep our memory of Grandpa vibrant. We are walking with the hope that other families don’t have to lose loved ones in this way. If it is on your heart to contribute financially, it’s greatly appreciated; but in true Grandpa fashion, we’re not asking for that. Please join us in remembering Grandpa in whatever way you can, whether that be a walk near you, a day fishing on the lake, or telling your family you love them. Alzheimer’s may have taken him from this life, but never from our hearts.
We love you, Grandpa!
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
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