Twenty eight years ago, I met a friend whose positive attitude has impacted my life in numerous ways. Teri is the type of person that has made an art form of transforming life’s lemons into lemonade, she doesn’t just make lemonade, she makes cakes, pies, cookies, and lemon bars, then uses the leftovers for potpourri and cleans her house until it shines! Afterwards she invites friends and family over and proclaims “Look at these wonderful treats that I have to share with you. If life had not handed me this abundance of lemons, we wouldn’t have all of these wonderful treats”. Saying that Teri is an optimist, is an understatement. Obviously, she had amazing parents to turn out to be this kind of adult.
The story of Teri’s life may sound like a life of difficulties, but she overcame each hurdle and takes a lesson from each obstacle. Teri and I now share a common bond, that neither of us would have wanted the other to experience. Teri’s Dad has Alzheimer’s.
Our lives are separated by distance, Teri lives in another town, but the experiences are sickeningly similar. We have discussed how others prefer to make this disease, an almost romantic condition. As if someone just gradually fades away like a flower. There are reasons that I refer to Alzheimer’s as a demon. Teri shared with me how she felt about her father’s dignity. Teri knew that he would lose so much of that precious trait; she needed to keep one shred intact, averting her eyes at inappropriate times. Teri strives to maintain that precious shred of dignity for him. She also emphatically states that if there was a need, she would quickly handle the situation, but strives to maintain that final piece, that sliver her father is now unable to maintain. Ignoring the ridicule of others, she forges on, honoring her father in seemingly small ways that others do not understand. This is a position that I relate too. Teri strives to maintain that level for the first man that she ever loved.
Many men would have been proud to call her daughter, but that privilege belongs to Mr. Jimmy, a real man with a real disease. His life counted for something greater, he calls my friend his daughter. The demon takes many things from its victims and their families; it may steal memories, but it can never change the past!