My mother's mother (Grammie) and my father both suffered from Alzheimer's. It was so hard to watch them begin to struggle first with remembering things, and then with the simple tasks of every day living.
My father was a people person - quick to make friends, and always more interested in knowing about them than sharing anything about himself. He was a "snappy" dresser, and loved finding a new sport coat or tie. His hair was always combed perfectly and his smile was broad and warm. As his Alzheimer's progressed, he became quiet and non-conversational. This was exacerbated by his loss of hearing, but as time passed, he didn't even pretend to listen to conversations around him. His appearance waned as he lost interest and his wardrobe dwindled to loose pants and T-shirts that were easy to put on.
Living in another state, I was only able to visit my father occasionally. I wish I had visited more because with each visit, his condition seemed to deteriorate exponentially from the previous visit. It was like visiting relatives at a family reunion and seeing how the kids had grown up; only Daddy was growing in the wrong direction - quickly. As Nancy Reagan described her walk with former President Ronald Reagan, it was a "long good-bye." We lost my dad long before his body left us, and I miss him.
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