2012-05-09

In the Shadow of Alzheimer's

meandpop

The last time my father stood on the pulpit at church was just under 6 years ago. It was my wedding day. If I had known that it would be the last time, I would have paid less attention to Matt's unfortunate haircut and more attention to his words.
I can't believe that it's been 6 years already that we have known something wasn't right. Back then my dad was forgetting things, repeating questions and losing track... We dismissed Alzheimer's. Probably because we wanted to. The symptoms weren't quite right and my dad was a workaholic professor; he was likely just really stressed. But a sabbatical turned into an unofficial retirement and we searched to come up with some answers to our questions. And then, when we finally got some answers, they were everything you never wanted to hear. It turns out, my father had been struggling with a slow-moving form of Alzheimer's for years. When we had a family meeting after the diagnosis, my dad himself told us what the doctor had said and what steps we were going to take as a family. It was a good little speech, except for the part where he actually forgot to tell us he had Alzheimer's. By this time, we already knew but still... a moment of irony.
I don't think I knew a lot about Alzheimer's until it became a part of my everyday life. I mean, it makes you, like, forget stuff, right? Oh ya, and it's the disease the girl on The Notebook had... that Ryan Gosling, what a hottie...
It wasn't until I saw what Alzheimer's was doing to my father's life that I realized that the 'forgetting stuff' is the easiest part to deal with... People always ask me if my dad still knows who I am... He does. One time he referred to me as his friend, not his daughter and it scared the crap out of me. But while the forgetting is awful but it is the loss of identity that hurts the most. My dad lost his identity as husband, father and professor. He can't work. He can't drive. He can't find the right Bible text in church. That is why I think thrifting with my dad was such a good activity for a time. My dad could spot quality and beauty and when he found something, he got that rush of accomplishment back; even if it was just for a little while. And if he found nothing, he would still find as much joy in me finding something. This would explain some purchases that were not exactly to my taste. I didn't care though, I paid a few dollars to give my dad some moments of happiness...
On the one hand we have been blessed that the advance of the disease has been slow. I've learned the lessons of appreciating the moments, of spending time and of saying I love you. My dad and I have always had a great relationship and our family, spread across two continents, has been blessed with some amazing times together. On the other hand, our family has been carrying the weight of the disease for a long time. It feels heavy. Especially right now. Right now, my dad is so limited in what can hold his interest and what he can do, that he spends a lot of his days in boredom and frustration. Yet the disease is not so far advanced that he is not aware of his own limitations. He might not be aware that he has Alzheimer's but he is aware of every little thing he can no longer do. That awareness is painful. This restless, depressed man is not someone I recognize. My dad is smart, funny and caring. I have to remind myself daily to separate the disease from the man. There are moments I spend with my father and then, there are moments I spend with the disease. Lately, I have spent more and more time with the disease.
I can't take him thrifting like I used to. Sometimes it's a good day and we can still thrift for about 20 minutes at a time, often I don't even try. I talk about his life growing up in Holland or I take him out for ice cream and treats. There are times when nothing really works and I am near tears, trying to entertain a broken man. Selfishly, I mourn for myself. I used to always be able to cheer him up. I could breeze through the door with loud comments and stupid jokes and take my dad out on some crazy adventures (the further away the better because long drives equals more downtime for my mom at home), lifting his spirits every time. I have to work a lot harder for a smile or a conversation now, and I feel like I am failing in what I used to excel at. Once again, I need to learn to separate the disease from the man and not take it as a personal failure when I can't reach him. I am just not ready to stop being his little girl. Sometimes, my dad can't listen to more than 3 seconds of my conversations; his eyes lose mine and recede into sadness so quickly. I want to grab my dad then, grab him by the front of his shirt and hold him here. Here with me. To listen to me. To love me. To love my future children. And when I drop him off back at home, I am exhausted. Yet, my exhaustion over a couple hours is nothing compared to what my mom goes through every day.
I have nothing but respect and admiration for my mother. She is taking care of her husband, a husband who often turns his frustrations on her, and she is doing it with grace, dignity and a smile on her face. My mom who has done so much research and work to develop the best treatment plans for my father (with doctors' supervision, of course). My mom who used to painstakingly insert glaring mistakes into my dad's old writings every night, so he could edit his own work the next day and so, feel a sense of contribution. My mom who, laughs loudly to try and fill the emptiness in the air. When I break down to my mom in helplessness (which is, I might add, unfair, as she shouldn't shoulder my grief), she reminds me to focus on my relationship with my husband. She tells me of how she promised to be with my father in good times and bad times and while they had a lot of good times, she is now going through the bad time. It is painful to know that my mom's life will be so much easier when my father's awareness reaches a lower point. My father losing his awareness, will give my mother some freedom... That is brutal fact to acknowledge.
I don't do research on Alzheimer's. I know too much already. It is a heartbreaking disease. I know every person affected is a different face of the disease. I also know that the journey we are on will continue to be a very long and difficult one. When I dare to think of future obstacles, I feel sick to my stomach. I don't want to focus on that, I would rather focus on the good moments we still have now, even if they are less frequent. I take lots of pictures of the good times and message them to the family in Holland. These pictures are like an Instagram feed... full of food, smiles and scenery. In the pictures at least, we are happy.
Last week I took my dad to a local food truck festival, even tweeting about it excitedly in advance. Foolish. It was too hot, too crowded and it didn't work out at all. I want to forget that. But I don't want to forget the moment that day when my dad asked me if we needed to stop and help the rough looking (yes, I judged that in one glance, my father did not...) guy struggling to fix his bike tire. That's my dad; helpful, polite and patient. He is always ready to help, even when we need so much help ourselves.
I don't really know why I am letting the flood gates on this open up on my blog... I talked about it a bit when he went missing last year, but for the rest, I try to keep the complicated aspects of my personal life out of the blog. It's easier that way. But lately I can't seem to write. Well, I can but it takes me forever and the joy is gone. I feel it every time I post. It's hard to write funny, light posts when your heart is heavy. I don't think anyone reads this blog and thinks my days consist of dress-up and cat snuggles, but lately writing about that stuff has felt false. I just needed to get some of this out of my head.

I've always prayed for a cure to Alzheimer's. A cure to help my family and all those other families who often suffer in silence. Lately though, I've just been praying for strength.

178 comments :

Natasha Fatah said...

Yen, thank you for sharing this post with us. It was clearly something you needed to share, and I completely understand that writing 'light hearted' posts must have felt false.

I can't imagine how difficult this must be for you or your mom. You're a good daughter, and you're doing what you can. I'll have a good thought for your dad and all of you in my heart today.

xoxo
~Natasha Fatah~

Slauditory said...

You sound like such a good daughter, spending quality time with your father and trying to make his days better. You are strong!

I wish you and your family the best.

Kate said...

I'm glad you have his outlet to voice frustrations and remember joyful times. You and your family have an enormous community rallied behind you, sending positive energy out for you.

lindsay said...

I don't really know what to say in response to this post. I just wanted to say that I read it, and it touched my heart. My grandma (my mom's mom) has a mental illness, and while I know it's not the same thing, I've seen my mom struggle with it for almost my whole life.

What you do for your father is what counts, the times when you feel selfish or you mourn for your own loss are human and are normal and you shouldn't ever feel guilty about them. What you do for your father and your family is amazing.
Thank you for sharing, I was very touched by your candor.

Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy said...

Beautiful post. I can't imagine what you're going through, but I'm sure you are a stronger and better person for it. I'll keep your family in my prayers. xo

Kate Bucci said...

Like Lindsay, I don't really know what to say. Maybe I did always think that your life was just dress up and cat snuggles, and I'm so sorry that I never realised the pain you were going through. You are strong, but it is also OK to ask for help - from your mum, and your husband, and from your readers. We can't do much but we are with you in spirit and holding you in our hearts.

Genny said...

Our lives are more than cute outfits, and I think it is absolutely okay to write about these feelings and struggles on your blog. God bless you and your family during this difficult journey - many prayers coming your way!!!

danielle and dinosaur toes said...

jentine, this is such a touching post. of course i don't know you or your father, but i still felt on the verge of tears reading about your father and how things have changed, because your love for him is obviously so strong.

as far as letting the floodgates open, i think so many people appreciate insight into some of their favorite bloggers' lives because it helps them feel more connected.

i can't imagine what this is like for any of you, but i know that your dad is so lucky to have a family that loves him and stands by him no matter what.

Karen said...

I am new to reading your blog, and so to hear a blogger speak about her personal life in such a way is so amazing to me! It makes me want to continue to read your blog even more! Being real and showing what your life is really like is so important! There are too many blogs that just show the good in the bloggers life, and not enough real blogs that show the struggle! Thank you so much for posting this. I honestly have no idea what your struggle is like, however I will be praying for you and your family! Your father seems like an incredible man and you seem like such an amazing daughter! Thank you for sharing your story and I will definitely continue praying for you, your father, and your family!

kelsey said...

you are such an amazing woman and daughter! i thank you for this post and pray that it was healing for you to get it out. i also pray that you know that you are making a difference in his life and always have!

Peggy said...

Praying for you and your fanily for strength. Sounds like you have wonderful parents!

SissySees said...

Little misty... The big A as I call it runs on both sides of my family. My Nana was an early diagnosee in the early 1980s, and at one point, I was going to get 17 different degrees, marry rich, and run a special care facility for A patients, so their families could take a break, take a vacation... or just breathe.

Then, it showed up on my mother's side too and ... I let go of that dream. My heart goes out to you and your family. Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me to get my head out of the sand.

indigorchid said...

My heart goes out to you and your family - losing a loved one is the hardest things we go through as humans, and seeing a loved one slowly dissapearing is the most difficult way I can imagine it happening, and the most difficult thing I've experienced myself. It is maddening to loose that person while they are still in front of you.

Thank you for sharing this with us - as hard as this situation is I hope for comfort for all of your family, in the ways that you can find it.

Consider Me Lovely said...

Wow, your honesty and transparency really touched my heart this morning. My grandmother has been dealing with slow moving dementia for the last 5 or 6 years, and my heartbreaks everytime I walk in the room and she doesn't exactly know who I am or looks at me blankly and says nothing when I'm talking to her. This of course doesn't even compare to what you are experiencing, so know you are in my thoughts and prayers Jentine.

As a blogger you are only human, so feel free to share and free your mind a bit on this issue whenever you need to. I'm even more smitten with you as a result of your realness and honesty. Many blessings my dear!

Abby C. said...

Oh, honey this is so hard. My husband and I are going through something so similar with his mother, who had a severe stroke at age 52 and was left partially paralyzed and somewhat mentally affected.

It's so hard to watch the people you love suffer and change because of disease. Please know that many people who read your blog are sending warm thoughts your way.

Julie Van Huizen said...

Such a beautiful and heartbreaking post Jen. Your words will give comfort to those who are struggling with the same haunting disease. We'll be praying you and your family get the strength and courage you need to persevere on this journey. You're amazing.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jen.....Mrs.Helder

Anonymous said...

Strength....psalms 73:26.

GFS said...

And I'm praying for your strength too, my sister:)

Rebekah said...

Alzheimer's runs in my husband's family, and his grandmother is battling it right now. I'm very worried for the future if it begins to affect his father or him.

You're an incredible daughter, and you've been very strong for your father. My thoughts are definitely with you and your family. And I'm wishing hard for a cure, too.

Batter said...

I will join you in praying for a cure and for strength and peace.

Jeff said...

Thanks for your transparency and vulnerability. I will pray for you and your family (I attended Calvin Seminary with Albert, fyi).

Lois said...

I don't usually post, just look at your thrifting, and try to place where in Hamilton your photos are taken. When I was in my mid 20s my mother had a stroke, which spiralled her into dementia. I know dementia is not the same, but I remember so well the many emotions which flip-flopped from sadness, grief, anger... I remember the funny times too, bitter sweet humour. I mourned the loss of my mother while she was still alive. It's a hard path, but it sounds like you have an intensely close family and that will help. Be kind to yourself.

Linda said...

i'll definitely be praying for you Jentine! and your dad and mom.

Sharon said...

thinking about you J!

Sarah said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. You are such a brave and caring daughter - thanks for sharing your experience so honestly.

Gerdien said...

Wat mooi beschreven Jentine!
Ik kan me heel goed indenken hoe zwaar en verdrietig het zal zijn.
Gods zegen en kracht toegewenst!
Ik bid voor jullie...

Linda said...

Ah fuck....

why did I read this at work?

You do know that you don't always have to be on your game? You can be sad, you can be happy you can be a bitch, it doesn't really matter. Your blog is your blog and i think finally writing about this will help you. I watched my grandmother turn from stroke victim to dimensia. That empty stare in her eyes got worse as it went on. I saw the same happen to Paul's dad, and in his case, he didn't last long. On Friday I saw Paul's grandmother, also suffering from Alzheimers and his gradfather said to me "I wish no one in your family gets this".

Fact is it won't get easier, it will only get harder and no one is asking you to stay strong for anyone, but your mom is totally right. Sometimes we focus so much on our family that we forget to focus on having the best life with our spouses.

Sometimes life fucken sucks, but you don't have to dress it up if you don't feel like it. There are literally no words to fix this.

kathy said...

Wow. This was obviously such a difficult thing for you to write, but I'm glad you did. Thank you for sharing your story. To echo all of the other commenters, you and your family are in our hearts and prayers.

Johan said...

Hi there, you might or might not remember me. My name Johan. We met once at a Bible study, at least that is what I remember....
It is true, I have never read your blog, I usually don't read blogs at all if that make you feel better, but somehow I came across this one. Providence, maybe? No. Definitely Providence.
I can not begin to understand what you and your family are going through. Nevertheless,this entry still gave me a sense of profound hurt, and unspeakable comfort.
Thank-you, Sincerely, Johan

Lissa @ The Looking Glass said...

oh jentine. so so sorry to read about the heaviness that you feel you have to carry alone sometimes. i can't imagine what living in the shadow of alzheimers would be like. thank you for sharing your story so that others who are experiencing a similar thing in their family feel a little less alone. much love to you!

em²ile² said...

What a beautiful post. I really admire your transparency. I know I can't even begin to grasp the grief it is to experience this, but your writing has made me understand a tiny fraction of this grief.

Thank you.

jenloveskev said...

Yen. I can not come close to understanding the pain and frustration that you and your family most be going through. I am not going to pretend and say I understand but your writing is so honest and from the heart and filled with so much love. I am sitting here sobbing on my couch. What an amazing daughter you are! Praying for strength and peace for you guys. What a blessing though that you have such a loving husband that can be there for you on days when maybe you can't be your strongest for yourself or in front of your mom and dad. Sending much love and prayers! xoxo. Thanks for sharing Yen.

Vang said...

Sending you a virtual *hug*

Laura HH said...

Hugs Jen. We will continue to pray for you and your family. Some of the words you have written here sound much like I felt when I lost my Mom. I had a really hard time when Laila was born without her there by my side.
Don't feel bad about crying to your Mom. It may be a comfort to her to have someone to cry with (and yes, this is coming from a Harsevoort). And let us know what we can do to help, even though I know you hate asking! Would your Mom like it if we brought her meals?

Ciarra said...

I am so so sorry, sweet Jentine. The pain you and your mother and family are experiencing must be profound. Your post pulled on my heartstrings and caused me to let forth the floodgates of my tears... my grandmother has suffered from Alzheimer's for several years and I visited her a couple weeks ago. It was horrible. I won't go into the details. I was close to my grandmother, but your father...you are even closer to him, and having to see him live with such a horrible evil disease is just.. ugh! It's heartbreaking, maddening, fist-shaking, unjust, frustrating,... You know.

My thoughts and prayers are with you. Here are some verses I turn to in times of distress or when I need comfort:

Ps. 9:9,10
Ps. 34:17-19
Ps. 34:15
Ps. 147:3
Isaiah 40:29-31
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
John 16:33
Isaiah 41:10
2 Corinthians 4:7
Revelation 21:3,4

*long hug to you* Wishing you a peaceful day.

Sheila said...

Oh my gosh, Jentine, I'm just teary here from reading this. My heart goes out to you and your family.

Thank you for sharing this - it's good to remember that real people exist behind these blogs.

Anonymous said...

Keeping you and your family in my prayers. Your focus on the positive and loving family support will get you all through this. I know.

Amalia said...

Yen,

Thoughts and prayers are with you. Rest assured, we know life isn't exactly dress-up and cat snuggles, but take comfort in knowing we admire you for your courage. Courage to share your heart ache, courage to bring us in closer to knowing the beautiful woman behind one of the most magical closets in Southern Ontario.

Keep smiling. We will do the praying.

Kirsten @ Triple Max Tons said...

Hey Yen, just wanted to let you know that my heart goes out to your fam. I personally haven't experienced what it's like having a loved one with Alzheimers, but I can only imagine how tough that must be. It's great to hear that you found that special activity - thrifting - to do with your dad. Some days are better than others, but try to keep your chin up. I really admire your honesty and courage to bare your soul like that. It's not an easy thing to do, and goes to show how much you all love and care about one another. We'll be praying for you!!

D said...

I think it is a very good thing that you wrote your story here. I hope that your writing made the load feel just a little bit lighter for you. I know how hard it is to have something like this in your family, to see the deterioration of the sick person and the effects on their caretaker.

And I know that some days you just can't smile on your blog. No one can fault you for that. Hugs and prayers for you and your family!

Hank VanBeek said...

Jentine, I had the pleasure of meeting your dad and mom and have them at our house for lunch one Sunday between services. He is so well respected for the work he has done, his teaching at the college and the books he wrote. Yes, it must be heart wrenching to see him this way. This is when we want to ask: Why Lord? And there is no answer. Your blog put a lot of things in perspective for a lot of people.
May the Lord give you and your family the strength to deal with what He has placed upon all of you.

Babes in Thriftland said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. My dad's brother was recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's and he's just at the beginning. I have to admit, it's hard to read what will happen to him down the road but I really want to take away the positive points you made. Treasure the moments you have while the person that you know is still there. I'm so sorry for what's happening to your dad. I'm sure nothing a stranger can say will make anything better but I hope you can find some relief/peace/help if and when you need it.

ak said...

Know that you are not alone -- and that strength doesn't mean it has to feel easy all the time. That you are writing and thinking about this, and caring so actively for your father, shows that you are strong. That you occasionally break down, shows that you are human. Your father is blessed to have such a great family to support him.

Anonymous said...

Long time fan of your blog.
I like honest. I love honest. You're hilarious and complicated...we all are. I always thought you were extremely stylish but now I KNOW you also possess a beautiful heart.
I very much appreciate it when people talk about Alzheimer's. Both my husband's grandmother's(who we all adore) are currently struggling through it, and it feels so much less lonely to know that there are other families going through the same thing. I hope it helps you to know there are others who are also shouldering this monstrous disease.
I will hold you and your family in my thoughts.

Maria said...

Jentine, you're a wonderful daughter and your mother is a wonderful wife. Your dad is lucky to have you. Wishing you strength and more happy moments with your family.

Looks and Books said...

So sorry you and your family have been dealing with this for so long. Alzheimer's is an unforgiving disease. I'm keeping you in my thoughts!

Meredith said...

Thanks for sharing Jentine. I'm so sorry that you and your family have to go through this. A close friend of my family's suffered from Alzheimer's for years, and it's such a sad disease. My thoughts and support are with you! And thank you for sharing on the blog - Lindsay and I totally know what you mean about posting feeling false sometimes... for putting so much of ourselves out there, sometimes you just need to be real about the difficult things in life. It's good for us to not just share the sunshine and sparkles side.

Peter said...

Thanks for such an honest appraisal of a horrible disease. My mom died a year ago after having Alzheimers for 2.5 years. I can relate to the pain and heartbreak you expressed. Thoughts and prayers go out to you.

Frannie Pantz said...

Jen,

There is so much that I want to say to you. First of all, THANK YOU so much for sharing this with us. I have been affected by Alzheimer's in my family as well and I can completely relate to what you are going through. I especially like the part that you share about the disease taking away a piece of the person's identity. It is so true. And it is the most frustrating part. It is so hard to not be selfish and self-judging when you are in that situation about why you just can't fix it with the right joke or adventure or hug. But I do hope that you know that all of that does help, even when you think that it doesn't. If nothing else, it can help you and your mother. I obviously don't know you in real life, but you seem to be a very genuine and kind person. And though I love to giggle at your posts and oh and ah over your thrift finds, I very much appreciate when a person can be real. If it is not in your heart to blog at the moment, then I say take a break. Do what you need to do for you and for your family. If blogging is a nice break for you from reality, then you should continue. But I know what you mean. A few weeks ago, I was at a similar stage in my blogging. My sister had been sent to a mental hospital for attempted suicide. Twice in one month. It was devastating. She has two young daughters. I was so confused, sad, mad and hurt. I did not share it on my blog. Mostly because I didn't think she wanted me broadcasting it. But it was very hard to keep my normally witty writing. I felt like my words began to be a sham and that they were just a shell of superficial nothingness compared to all of the pain and frustration I was going through. My mom and I were helping raise my nieces at the time and not only was I upset, but exhausted. I hope that you and your family have all the wonderful times with your father while you can. He sounds like a great man and one that is very important to you, your family and his students. I hope you can treasure every moment--frustrating and happy. Take care Jentine.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jentine,
May God grant you and your family His peace and strength for the day. You will all be in my prayers. Cheryl

Sarah @ Hunt Gather Fashion said...

Vulnerable, honest & heart-warming. I admire your ability to blog about the not so easy times.

Mandy Paige said...

You honor us, your readers, in sharing something so deeply personal.

My father does not have Alzheimer's, but due to other mental problems and poor health he has changed into a different person. I still get glimpses of the man he was, and more often than not we have a lovely time together. But there are moments when this stranger comes out and I feel isolated, depressed and lonely for a father I used to have. Soon I will have to move my mother in with me. She has all of her faculties about her but is no longer able to support herself financially. I wonder often what our future will look like, what will become of each of us if and when she starts to slip.

My younger sister is caring for her father, who is going through something similar to Alzheimer's. We live far apart and my heart aches for what she struggles with daily; just getting him to take a shower is an ordeal.

Strength, yes, strength is something I pray for. I will say a pray for both of us today.

Allison said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post. I've read your blog in the past because I love your thrifty finds and wit, but I can relate to the feeling of a parent's health being out of your control.

My mother has been legally blind for most of her life and lately her vision is deteriorating even furthur. Though I know that sight is much different than losing control of your mind, it's losing control of a major sense and independence. It breaks my heart to see her coping with something daily that so many of us take for granted and it's been a long road towards realizing that I can't always be the one to make things better.

Support groups have helped me to stray strong through the situation (both online and off), not sure if you've ever tried any local groups, but it might be something to check out.

Stay strong and know your readers are praying for you.

Jane said...

Thank you for posting this. Thank you for being honest and sharing your struggles, for making the rest of us feel less alone. My grandmother recently passed from Alzheimer's, and my aunt, who is only 50, has just been diagnosed with the disease. For my mother it has been devastating - her mother and her sister having the same terrible disease, and it terrifies me that the same thing will happen to her.

You are not alone, and your feelings are natural. I know the guilt that comes from feeling that life will be easier once a loved one is gone or moved beyond our ability to care for them. This is so so hard to deal with, to accept, to process. But you are not alone - your family loves you, even when you feel like a failure, which you are not. None of us are, we're all just human beings, trying to figure it all out when everything seems to be whirling out of control.

Rita deBoer said...

. You are a wonderful daughter. I wish you much strength . I find in tmes like these you really learn to live day by day. All the best to the whole family.

Stella said...

A big bear hug for you, Yen. I am so sorry you are going through this, but thank you for sharing this with us, your readers.

Sending strength and positive thoughts your way!

Alex said...

I don't normally comment on blogs but I felt like I needed to this time. My mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the age of 53, she is still in the early stages but my family has been through this before with my grandmother (my mom's mom). It is hard. No one can even imagine the pain you feel watching your loved one lose their identity and slip away from you. The part that I struggle with the most is that my mom knows what is going to happen to her, she has seen and lived it first hand with her own mother and she is scared and so am I. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that you are doing everything your dad needs you to do and you should be proud and I am sure he is proud of you as well. I will be praying for you, your dad and your entire family!

Sarah Bares said...

My heart is breaking for you after reading this. Thank you for sharing. I have no helpful comments or advice, but know that I am thinking positive thoughts for you to have the strength you need. <3

archives vintage said...

total daddys girl over here....the tears are flowing reading this. i can't imagine how helpless you (and your family) must feel. :( i'm not one for prayer, but i am definitely sending some thoughts of strength to you, yen.

lots and lots of love. xoxoxoxo

Sofia H. said...

Oh Jentine! You are amazing and have such a big light inside you. I will keep you and your father in my prayers.

Jenny said...

Lazers of support sent your way.

Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) said...

Much love and strength to you. I lost my dad to a heart attack four years ago, at age 19. I often wonder if losing him slowly would have been easier to deal with than losing him so quickly, and it's impossible to know. Either way, losing someone is terrible and heart wrenching. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Ashley said...

Jentine, I'm a reader - not a poster, but you made me cry at work so I figured I should post. Thank you for sharing. You made my heart break for your family, though I know God has a plan. I will keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jentine,

I'm an avid reader of your blog and your openness touched me.
I'll light a candle for you and your loved ones, to give you strength.

I wish you all the best. And I'm sending you good thoughts and strenght.

Best regards from Holland,

Frederike

thepraguenosis said...

Jentine, I have no doubt that you are a thousand times stronger than you think you are. From this moving post it is clear that you are an amazing daughter and are such a positive force in your father's life. I am sending positive thoughts your way!

doxologythots said...

It takes courage to share such things. As a student of your father, I will always remember him as a compassionate, caring, Christ-like man, who taught me more than knowledge. He taught me character. I pray our Father in heaven will give you all his strength, peace, and joy, even in the middle of heart-wrenching pain and suffering. "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." (Deut 33:27)

doxologythots said...

It takes courage to share such things. As a student of your father, I will always remember him as a compassionate, caring, Christ-like man, who taught me more than knowledge. He taught me character. I pray our Father in heaven will give you all his strength, peace, and joy, even in the middle of heart-wrenching pain and suffering. "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." (Deut 33:27)

Sabrina said...

You and your family have more strength than most people will ever have. The things you do for each other and they way you support your father with the little things is amazing.

my husbands grandparents (on both sides) have (or had) this terrible disease and every day I am scared that it will someday pass down to him or even my children. But I hope if that day happens that I have enough strength in my like you and your mother to get through it with dignity and grace.

My thoughts are your father and family!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing reminder. Writing isnt always there for us to share the good/funny/creative times. It's also there to convey the moments in between. Thank you for being brave enough to share. Sending you strength.

anna said...

Dear Jentine, I am so sad for your struggles. My heart is full and goes out to you. What a painful time. I know it may seem like something is "expected" of you here but it's your blog. And if writing about fluff or heartache or not at all helps you, then DO IT. WRITE IT. I pray for you and your hardships, that you may just have peace to get through it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this.
*Thank you so much.*

Anna said...

I've been reading your blog for about a year and remember your post last year. That post was a big reason why I've kept up with following you.

At the time of your last post, I was studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain. My grandma had just passed away with a severe case of Alzheimer's and I couldn't make it home for the funeral. My heart was broken.

I know every situation is completely different, but at the time, I really appreciated that you are a strong, confident, hilarious person who goes through things. Just like we all do. And while I was missing my grandma like crazy, you were one writer who reminded me that having weaknesses and going through hard times doesn't mean you're not strong. It takes strength to talk about hard stuff.

Please know there will be prayers coming from Chicago in your direction. God can work in amazing ways, even in times when life sucks.

margreet said...

Lieve Jentine, dank je wel dat je dit geschreven hebt. Ik leef zo met jullie mee en je verwoordt de pijn zo goed. De machteloosheid en de frustratie..Het zijn lange, zware tropenjaren, voor jullie als familie en voor je vader in het bijzonder. We steunen jullie waar en hoe we ook maar kunnen. Biiiiig Hug!

K.Line said...

What an articulate post about an untenable circumstance. I'm so sorry to know that you are going through this, but it seems you have considered it so carefully with your heart and mind, that whatever advantages self-awareness can give to you in this situation, are working on your behalf. It seems that you have a wonderful family network and that your father is incredibly fortunate for having you all to love and care for him. I wish you strength too - and it seems that you have a lot of it!

dot said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile now, but haven't ever commented. I always love your outfit posts, of course, but this really struck me today. My grandfather (who has lived with my family since I was fifteen)also has Alzheimer's. I don't research it, either. I try not to think about it. But the way you described your father's frustration--and the fact that he remembers you but isn't able to do the things he once did--this exactly describes my grandfather. It's truly heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing this. It's hard, even though people have heard of Alzheimer's, relating the reality of this disease on a day-to-day level. You've done that so well.

Anonymous said...

This was extremely well-written. You should consider submitting it elsewhere for publication. Keep fighting the good fight; you're inspiring others to do the same.

caffeinerd said...

Thinking of you and your family. Thank you for sharing! I remember how challenging it was when my grandmother had dementia/Parkinson's---especially for my mom. Can't imagine the challenge of seeing a parent affected by Alzheimer's. Virtual hug coming your way, lady.

Sydney said...

I was reading your blog last year when you first posted about your dad. Isn't it amazing that beneath all of the tulle, high heels, and flirty looks we give to the camera each of us has something that we struggle with every day? Thank you for sharing a very personal and tough story with us. The internet has made the world both incredibly huge and small at the same time and I know that you and your family will be in so many thoughts and prayers (mine included). My own father passed away suddenly almost two years ago. While he didn't suffer with Alzheimer's he had battled with pain and addictions for years, but what struck me about your dad was how he wanted to help the rough man that day. My dad was the same - he would talk to anyone, people most of us just dismissed as "weird" or strange. And he would make genuine friends with them. It sounds like your dad is much the same - and while it is hard with what you are dealing with, it is good to know that that man is still there.

Kenya said...

Thank you for sharing. This statement rang deep

"She tells me of how she promised to be with my father in good times and bad times and while they had a lot of good times, she is now going through the bad time."

jhitomi said...

Oh what a brave post. It made me tear up, especially what you wrote about your mother. Thank you so much for sharing.

Alison (Wardrobe Oxygen) said...

Oh Yen, this post made me tear up. My father passed in '98, not from Alzheimer's but I saw him slowly over time become a different person, how hard it was for my mom, how it changed all of us and left us so helpless. The days of hope, and the weeks of helplessness. I admire your strength and how big your heart is, and know what you are going through.

My father's grandfather has Alzheimer's and it has been a painful journey for all of us. His wife just turned 90 and has to care for him, and sometimes he can be so mean, so difficult because the disease has taken away the man he really is. They have moved to assisted living because of it, had to sell the house they lived in for 60 years and it just breaks my heart.

Yen, we don't know each other IRL, but my heart goes out to you and your family. I will send vibes of strength and healing to you, and have you in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing this, sharing you.

Nicole said...

I've followed your blog for awhile, but I've never commented. I appreciate your realness today. I think we read blogs, look at the photos, admire the outfits or the cute projects or the funny words, but sometimes we forget the author is a real person. With feelings and emotion and ups and downs and trials and joys of real life. And you've made yourself so real today. Praying for you and your family.

Melissa Swanson said...

I'm so sorry to read this. It breaks my heart, and it makes me scared to think about what the future holds for my own father.
But thank you for being willing to share. Never think that no one reads your blog -- we do, and we're out here, and we care.

Girlinapanama said...

I don't know you sweetie but I know I love my parents as much as you love yours and can't imagine the pain you are all feeling. You all have amazing strength and love and this is what must keep you going, my heart feels for you at this difficult time.

Love Esther xx

Stefanie said...

Beautiful <3

Dementia and mental health is something I hold close to my heart. Remember, you are not alone.

Thank you for sharing this <3

Nadine said...

Oh honey, my heart aches for you. What a sad, difficult thing to cope with. My friend's mum has Alzheimer's and deteriorated very quickly - I can only imagine that the slow-moving form has its own set of struggles. I'm so proud of you for sharing this story with us, and I hope that our responses are able to give you some form of comfort. I know that's what we all really want to do! Big hugs and lots of love, N xo.

Serene McEntyre said...

Oh Jentine, it's with tears in my eyes that I type this. THANK YOU! For sharing this! For the reminder of what's really lasting in this life...love. And also for telling us about your father. He sounds like such a sweet sweet man. Much love and good feeling headed your way...from me to you. BTW, I find myself praying as you mentioned....to get through, especially with the grace of your mother. She sounds like a remarkable woman.. Hugs...
~Serene

contrary kiwi said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, Jen. I love your outfit posts and your hilarious way of writing, but I also love to see the glimpses of your life. I am praying for you and your family.

Kim Batteau said...

Dear Jentine, I was touched by your blog about your father. You write about your pain in a way that reaches others' hearts. We are thankful that we could have your parents as our guests in The Netherlands last year and again recently. That was a special time, although sometimes difficult, seeing your Dad drifting further into the abyss. We know that there is a Shepherd who goes with us through the darkest valleys. And that there is light on the Mountain ahead.

Candycane said...

I'm sad to read your post - having had a Nanna and a Grandad with Alzheimers I know it can be a huge struggle at times - but you must share it with others, you must talk of the good times and go on making memories for yourself and for him - however fleeting they must be!

You look so much like your dad in the above picture! Treasure the times!

My thoughts and prayers are with you!

SAl x

newpetite said...

I can only imagine how hard it must be for you and your mom to deal with something so heart wrenching! I pray for strength and courage and Thanks for sharing this post with us. *Hugs*

Laura said...

My thoughts with you and your family. I cannot even imagine how hard that must be. I'm glad that you shared with us, for life cannot always be light and cheery. Remember Jeremiah 29:11

xoxo,
Laura
http://lauraisthriftingthroughlife.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Alzheimer's runs deep in my family. Prayers all around, but especially for a cure.

Anonymous said...

I will pray for strength for you! May God's loving arms surround you and your family.
Karen VanVeen

Jessie said...

I read your blog all the time and never comment, but your story was so moving that it felt wrong to just skip past without offering something. Alzheimer's is such a sad disease and my heart goes out to you and your family. There's nothing I can say to make a difference, but thank you for being so brave and speaking about it. I really hope your Dad has many more happy moments with you and your family.

Marie a la Mode said...

I appreciate this post, and you being honest. I always think, "She's so funny all the time!" and wonder what's behind the hilarity and here it is, it's heavy and sad and I think you needed to get this out today. I hope you feel better in doing so. I am giving you a great big hug through the interwebs and I am going to say a prayer for you and your family tonight.

Anonymous said...

I love your outfit Yen. You wear Bravery so well.
Hugs,
Uptown Catherine

Wes Bredenhof said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. It's a heavy burden to bear, but there are others who will travel with you. May God give you strength for the days ahead.

Michelle said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us. From one daddy's girl to another, I cannot imagine what you are going through. It sounds like you have such a perspective on it and have learned so much from your struggle. Sending lots of positive thoughts and support your way!

Kathy said...

Thank you for posting this. It's not the same but my dad was just diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) two weeks ago. We were kind of bracing ourselves for this all along, but it's been devastating and my feelings are all over the place (anger is the main one right now). When you said that your dad's loss of identity is what hurts the most, I completely understand what you mean. One of my dad's best qualities is his quick wit and dry sense of humor--unfortunately, this disease makes speaking increasingly difficult and sometimes he just gives up, out of exhaustion or frustration. It's just so hard to watch him go through this. Anyway, thanks again for sharing this piece of your life with us and I hope your prayers are answered.

Stay strong,
Kathy

amber said...

Ya know I have always thought of you as the most giving, caring person in our corner of the internet that I feel pretty helpless and futile right now not knowing what to say or how to give back. I just hope you know how much we love and admire your honesty and the incredible strength you might not realize you have.

brenna said...

Thank you for sharing will all of us. I have lost two loved ones to Alzheimer's and there is nothing to say other than keep loving the moments that you are able to share together.

brenna

Terri said...

Thank you for being brave enough to share that. Best of luck to you and your family with a very trying situation.
http://stylishsass.blogspot.com

fashionfixation said...

Yen,
I'm so sorry to hear your heart is hurting. Your honesty is beautiful, and please don't feel badly about opening up on your blog. It is a blessing that you are able to share this with your readers. Please know we support you and are here to listen. You, your dad the rest of your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
God Bless you and may He give you the grace of strength in your suffering.

Grace Frye said...

Jentine,

Saw your link on facebook. So sorry to read all of this about your dad. An older member of our church has a wife who suffers from terrible Alzheimer's/dementia. It is so sad to watch her become less and less herself but beautiful to watch him take care of her so tenderly. Am glad that you and your family are so committed to taking care of your dad. May God continue to give you the strength you need as you go through all of this.

KylyR said...

This post was beautiful…and heartbreaking…but most of all beautiful. God is obviously using you in your Dad’s life and in the lives of others simply by your sharing this part of your story. The grace with which you speak of your Dad is truly inspiring; even though I’m sure you don’t always feel that way. I have a feeling most of your readers initially checked out your blog for your sense of style and your sassy wit, but we keep coming back because of YOU. And this post was a deeper glimpse of your heart, which is honestly where your true beauty lies. Alzheimer’s has touched me as well, as I watched my Grandmother battle it. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable in this way--your followers don’t take that for granted. And we pray for a sense of peace in what is, unfortunately, an unpeaceful time for you.

Meg said...

Hi Jentine,
I'm not sure you'll ever get to this comment (there are so many!), but thank you for writing this. My maternal grandmother has had Alzheimers' for over 10 years now, and I can only remember bits and pieces of what she was like beforehand. My mother and uncle take care of her every day, and I know my mom struggles with it, but this helps me to understand her feelings even more. It really means a lot to me that you chose to share this.

I know you don't research Alzheimers', but there's been some people that have had success with giving Alzheimers' sufferers coconut oil every day. It's supposed to improve the function of some brain cells. We're trying it with my grandmother (can't hurt, right?), and are hoping for some good results. It's a lot like butter, so it's easy to incororate into everyday foods. If you're interested in learning more, just send me an email and I'll be happy to send you more info - I just don't want to write a novel in your comments section! ;)

This is tough, but I'm so glad you have a large, loving, and supportive family. I wish you all the best.

Karen Mann said...

What a beautiful post Jen - thanks for sharing this with us. I think about you guys a lot and how hard this must be for your whole family. What a blessing that you have such a special relationship with your Dad. We'll keep praying for you. Let us know if there is anything we can do for you - any time, we are here. Love you!

Lindsey said...

Dearest Yen, you write beautifully. There seems to be so much pain and suffering around us and I want you to know that you and your family are never far from my thoughts and prayers. I'm thankful that you are surrounded by family and friends and well, I love you and I miss you, we don't see eachother often enough.
Being there for your Mom, for your Dad that is beautiful, I pray that the Lord gives you and Matt and your family the strength to cherish the times you have together.

Kristen said...

Wow. I ended up on your blog through a friend of mine who posted this post on her facebook. She's dealing with Alzheimer's in her family as well and I've worked with seniors living with the disease and, man, do I give you credit and praise for what you are doing! It's tireless, feels endless and yet there will come a day when your father will be free of this human brokenness and you will be able to rejoice with him in his freedom and new found health! I hope and pray your family finds peace already here and now and that your hearts heal a little bit knowing God is on your side too. Best wishes, Jentine.

Kristen

Anonymous said...

Long time reader (lover) of your blog. Love the picture of you & your Dad. Just had to comment with big *hugs* for you and your family. I wish for you more moments of peace.

Nikki said...

This was a beautiful and heartbreaking post; thanks for sharing Yen.

Sending my prayers for your and your family's strength.

Jess said...

My heart goes out to you and your family! I dated a guy for about 6 years whose grandmother had Alzheimer's. His grandparents used to come into the restaurant I worked at, and I remember one summer his grandfather told me that she had on 2 pairs of pants because it was easier to just let her wear that than to try to convince her she needed to choose one pair to wear. Despite the severity of her condition, I remember times that I thought she knew what we were talking about. I'm so glad you're able to hang out to the good times and wish your family many more of those experiences!

Jess
fancypants514.blogspot.com

mimi said...

i often read your blog without posting comments, but felt like i had to thank you for sharing your experience with your dad. in the photo you posted, you can see the warmth and love he has, it is just beautiful. praying that your family finds some comfort and peace.

mimi x

gleeps said...

Your heart is even more beautiful than your wardrobe, Yen. I hope that reading these lovely comments will give you comfort and support. I'm so glad I now know what you're dealing with. Your readers are all here for you, Yen, and your love for your father is carrying him through....

Kate said...

Just wanted to leave a big XO on this post & tell you I appreciate your honesty so much! While I cannot begin to relate to what you're going through, I definitely understand the feeling of going through something major and trying to keep up with a happy-go-lucky blog and the awful fake, forced feeling it leaves you with. Take your time, and just post when it feels right. xoxo.

Lynda D'Souza said...

Jentine its good to get it off your chest. And if writing on this blog helps then just do it. We love reading your blog - the fashion stuff and the not so fashiony stuff - mainly we love reading about you and your life. I pray for strength for you and your family....stay calm...and stay strong.

Julie said...

Jentine, it takes incredible bravery for you to take pictures and post them on the Internet everyday, but it takes mountains more to share your inner thoughts, worries, and sadness with a bunch of anonymous readers. Along with many others who have commented, I have experienced the slow and terrible despair that Alzheimer's creates. And while it cannot mitigate your own experience, I hope you have some moments of comfort in knowing that - despite never having met you or spoken with you - we all care very much for you and your family. Keep holding on to those moments of happiness, joy, and love with, from, and for your father. You will be in my prayers.

Sara B said...

Yen my heart hurts with yours after reading this. Thank you for your honesty, and for sharing the hard side of life, which isn't always pretty. Though I still sensed so much beauty in this. A daughter who loves her father so much and a wife who is committed to her husband no matter what. That is rare in this world and is a thing to be treasured. I will pray for you and your family, for a cure, and that your story can touch the lives of others. Hugs to you xoxo

Suze K said...

I feel your pain as I am in the same position with my father. This cruel disease is killing both my parents - one directly and one through the strain of caring for the man she loves. Big hugs to you, our mother's strength to stand by their vows 'for better for worse' is an inspiration. I don't have wise words to make to you feel better - I would love to have some to share but sometimes you just have to say 'that's life'. The good, the bad and the downright ugly. I feel my role is to support my Mum anyway I can and as Dad thinks I'm now his sister rather than daughter and doesn't recognise his grandchildren I can provide a distraction for Mum from the mundanities. You sound like a daughter your Dad is rightly very proud of - in this you have given him such a gift. Take care x

Lo said...

This touched my heart. I "lost" my dad in another way, when he decided to suddenly leave my mom and distance himself from everyone. He completely changed, and the daddy I had grown up with and adored was no longer there. Your comment about not being ready to stop being his little girl really hit home, because I've felt that, and still feel that. Obviously it is a different scenario, but I know some of the emotions you feel. Stay strong in the Lord. I will think og you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully real post and a cracking picture!

Anonymous said...

Wow Jentine,

Helen posted the link to your blog on Facebook and I'm thankful I took the time to read it. I can hardly imagine how difficult your dad's situation is for you. My grandma had Alzheimers for as long as I knew her. She got the slow-moving kind as well already at 59 years old. My grandpa for all the years since cared for her day by day and lived out his simple faith in such a gracious fashion. A week ago the grandma I never really knew died and I didn't really know how to grieve. This article gave me a helpful perspective.

Calvin V

Linda T said...

Thank you for your post; I can't say that I have any experience at all dealing with this disease. I pray for strength for all of you, for patience, and what you need day by day as a family!
Linda Tenhage
Grassie, ON

Lexi said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I know it is difficult to be so personal - but posts like this make bloggers more realistic to us and make you feel more relatable. I'm so sorry to hear what you and your family are going through. Take care and I will say a prayer for all of you.

Best,
Lexi

Annie said...

Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

Genevieve said...

Your family will be in my prayers! I have always enjoyed your outfits, your mad thrifting skills, and your humor. Thank you for sharing your struggle at slowly losing your father and your request for Our Lord's strength. There is grace in sadness and suffering.

Carla said...

You and your dad share the same smile.
This is such a heartbreaking and very touching post. It's really difficult to see someone you love go through something that takes away their ability to enjoy life. I've been there a few times, and the pain can get overwhelming at times. But one thing I can tell you is that your dad and your mom are very lucky to have a daughter like you. Your dad's awareness may be changing, but at the end of the day, he is still your dad and you're still his little girl. His forgetting things does not eliminate the fact that somewhere in his consciousness, his memories of you and his family remain there. He's just not able to retrieve them. But they are there.
Hang in there, Jentine. Keep reaching out to him, enjoy your times together.

Much love.

Anonymous said...

I will pray for you too.

Lisa said...

Sadly, I can relate to every word you wrote! My mother also has Alzheimers, and it is a daily struggle to keep her healthy and engaged in life.

Depression, frustration, anger.

Very difficult.

Anonymous said...

You are not alone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings so others don't have to feel that way.

Mamasan said...

I'm so sorry this is happening but it's wonderful you have your mom, hubby, faith (I remember you mentioning church before), cats and friends (real and internet!)...not necessarily in that order! :) You are doing well to remember to fill your heart with blessings, great memories and the positives of the situation. Take care of yourself...You look so much like your dad! How awesome is that?

Nicole Demsey said...

Thank you for the honest post. It couldn't have been easy to write. I wish you the strength that you pray for.

kenda said...

a number of my family members have struggled with alzheimer's, including my grandmother, and it a cruel, cruel disease. i wish there was something i could say to make things better but of course, there isn't. as wholly inadequate as this is, let me just say that you and your family are in my thoughts. hang in there.

Jessica @ Beautify My Life said...

I'm so sorry for what you're going through. My grandmother fought a very long battle with Alzheimer's, and I saw what it did to my grandfather before he passed away, and then to my mom and her sisters for years after. It's an inhumane disease, but it sounds like you're doing absolutely everything that you can for your father. Stay strong, and don't beat yourself up on those days that you feel sorry for yourself, and then feel guilty for feeling sorry for yourself. You're entitled.

Amanda said...

Oh yen. I feel for you and your family so much. I wrote to you once before when you penned that beautiful sad piece when your father went missing. In the first years after my mothers stroke I went through a similar (though I suspect not as difficult) period where my family was her caretaker and her normally nimble self just wasn't there. I wish you as many wonderful days and moments as is possible in the months and years ahead. We do our best in times like these.it's all we can do.

Anonymous said...

this is a beautifully written post. it made me cry. what a terrible disease - and so we long for the day we can know them again. praying for you and your family.
esther dejong

Anonymous said...

I get a lot of joy and fashion inspiration from reading your blog, so I hope that the supportive comments here give you a little bit of joy back. You're not alone, yes Alzeihmers is a horrible disease, but you're not alone. Lots of readers here all appreciate your honesty, it's these experiences that remind us that we are all human and connected. Take care

Kara M said...

Praying for strength!!

Mandy said...

I've been a reader for a while. I'm a nurse, and a daughter that has lost her Dad- your post made me cry, and hard.

I see a lot of the same things that I went through with my Dad, who didn't have alzeimers, but did have a disease that left him confused, and thankfully, killed him reasonably quickly.
My heart totally ached for the man I knew, not the disease- like you, I still sometimes got to see the man still.
Sometimes, I even got a glimpse of the man he hid, behind his strong older guy facade, and realized just how much he loved me.

I just want to give you a big hug, Jentine, and make you a cup of tea after you visit. I won't tell you it will get better, coz it won't.. But I just wish this was a disease we could cure.

There's a biography, about the ex wife of one of Australia's prime ministers, who was much loved by most Aussies. Her daughter wrote it, and part of it details her descent into alzeimers. It's interesting, and thoughtfully written. She also has interesting ideas regarding dealing with her Mum, when she was still at home.
It was intriguing to me, as a nurse.
It's called 'Hazel- my Mother's story.' and it's by Sue Pieters-Hawke.
You can skip the boring political stuff at the start, though some of it is racy as well... Lol.

Or you can ignore the bit about the book.

Anyway, he's lucked out in one way- to have such a beautiful family that 'get it' and understand how to help him have the best life he can, for now, despite the disease.
Thats more than many get.

Terri said...

I have read every last word of this post with tears hovering in my eye lashes. It's good, this is your blog...and this is very, very moving writing. You haven't lost the touch at all.

Have you played music for him...music that he recalls from his youth? I have heard that magical things can happen with music.

Erika said...

All you can do is what you can - with love, compassion and understanding.

Best thoughts for you and your family. Illnesses like Alzheimer's are so cruel. Be kind to yourselves.

Erika

Karen said...

I know how you feel. I am a daughter with a father that has Alzheimer's. He was diagnosed 6 years ago too. It's a terrible disease, stripping the person of dignity, worthiness and personality. My mother is my Dad's carer and some days I don't know how she makes it through the day. There are always tears & finding something my Dad can do is hard as he too is now always restless & quickly aggravated.
He now attends a day centre 4 days a week, where he seems happy. As a per a previous comment from Terri, he responds well to music from his youth & is excited to get up & dance with all the lady carers.
Anyway this is the first time I have read your blog or even posted on anyone's blog. You moved me to take action. I know your pain, I feel it too everyday. All I can wish for you is that you can enjoy the small windows of clarity or recognition that your father may have. I wish for many more of them for myself.
Karen

Left on Main said...

Yen,

I cried through this whole thing. Thank you for sharing, you sound like an incredible daughter!

Sending you a huge like-I-mean-it hug and will be praying for you all. Hang in there.

Sarah

Tim and Elly Hutten said...

Dear Jentine:
As brothers and sisters in the Lord we want to assure you and your family of our thoughts and prayers.
While we know your family from the time before this terrible illness struck and we still regularly see your parents at Tafelmusic Baroque Orchestra concerts and everything seems quite normal on the outside, we know how much pain and sorrow there must be. May our Heavenly Father continue to surround each of you with his loving care and guidance.

Tim and Elly Hutten and family

But I, O Lord, cry to thee; in the morning my prayer comes before thee. Psalm 88:13

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I will help you." Isaiah 41:13

izzyg said...

I think you wrote this post for me.

my mother in law has alzheimers.. recently diagnosed but we have known for a long time something was wrong. she is only 60 years old, so very young. my husband wants us to move in with them & help with the transition of everything. I have been dragging my heels...praying the Lord will help me to know it is the right thing for us to do. i opened my computer this morning and there was your post. it speaks of the urgency, the reality of taking advantage of all the time we have with the ones we love ~ taking the time to just BE there with her, love her, serve her, laugh with her. thank you for taking the time to share your heart..i think God uses anything He needs to to get a hold of us, and your post has done that for me.

Briony Chalk said...

Jentine, this was an absolutely heartbreaking and yet inspiring post. I don't know you, or your father or family, but I can't help but feel he would be extremely proud of the way you are coping with this. The way you and your mum are staying strong (even though I bet it doesn't feel that way often) is beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing. It has made me reconsider my own relationship with my grandmother (who has dementia), and to focus less on my grief at her memory loss and confusion, and more on what I can offer her. And always to treasure the good moments and remember happy times. All the best to you and your family. x

:) Jen said...

Thank you for sharing your story.
Rev. 21:4

Jen

Linaya said...

It's difficult to be vulnerable and post something that is so personal, but I'm glad you did. Thank you for having the courage to be real and transparent. I'm praying for strength and perseverance over you, your dad, and especially your mom.

Gwen said...

Oh Jentine, it breaks my heart to read how you feel like you're not doing enough. What you're doing is in fact amazing, and I'm sure the little adventures you take him on bring so much happiness into your dad's life. And if one of them goes wrong, like with the food fair, then that's not your fault! You couldn't possibly have predicted that it wouldn't work out. Someone once told me that we feel guilty in situations like this because the guilt gives us an illusion that we're actually in control - that things have gone wrong because of choices we make, etc., and that this makes terrible situations less scary to deal with. I'm not sure if that's true, but it's food for thought, anyway.
And your mother, I'm sure she appreciates what you're doing, and the respite you're giving her, very much. She's chosen to look after him, so that's not something you need to feel guilt over, either. Maybe she is relishing this last period where he will be more or less normal, putting all her love into looking after him and storing precious memories for when he won't be the same at all. For better and for worse, and all that. She sounds like a remarkable woman, but so do you! So please don't be so hard on yourself. :)

Rose B. said...

Jentine, you and Matt and your whole family are in our prayers. Do not feel bad about opening up or regretting it. It is good to have others alongside with you. Thanks for being "real" and genuine. BTW, hubby and I both agree you are a fabulous writer much like your father.

Thrifted or Scripted? said...

Jentine, I read your post and cried. I don't "know" you and there is no way I could possibly know what you and your family are faced with daily. As I read, I wished I could do something, anything. Your Mom is obviously a strong woman and God and her faith will carry her through. For you, I will pray and for your father may God keep him in his precious care. Thank you for writing this so beautifully and reminding me that your blog isn't just all pretty and superficial nor should it be.

Anonymous said...

By opening up and being honest you have enabled all these lovely people a chance to offer up prayers for you and yours. How wonderful is that? When I was going through similar with my dear Mum a friend reminded me that I was not loosing her bit by bit but she was going on ahead little by little, to paradise

Adin B said...

I think sometimes letting it all out or talking about it is a cure. You are one strong woman and so as your mom. When I got here to the US from Philippines, I met my mother-in-law and she was no longer her 100% self. She had an Alzheimer and it was sad to see her that way especially hearing all the stories about how she used to be. She was a wonderful woman who loves to cook really good food and entertain people. It was sad to see her that and certainly was a challenge. I was glad I was able to take care of her for a while and got to know her a little bit. I don't know what else to say, but to pray for you and your family for more strength in dealing with your father's situation.

One time I was watching the news and a husband that had an Alzheimer and he was taking coconut oil, mixing it with his food or using it for cooking and he said that it works for him and that coconut oil is actually good for the brain. If only we knew it back then, maybe we could have tried it on my mother-in-law and see if makes a difference. I don't know if this helps, but I want to say that just have a lot of patience, strength and more support as he needs it now more than ever. God bless!

cobie said...

Jentine
I just saw your Mom yesterday at the plant sale and I was excited for her that she could be there.
Praise God for your gift of writing.
I have tears in my eyes as you share the struggles of dealing with Alzheimer's.When you see the picture of you and you Dad you would never know he has the disease.
After the plant sale, I went up to visit a friend in the hospital on west 5th and she too has Alzheimer's. It was her birthday so I brought her a card and I got little response from her. Later her face did lighten up for a second when I called her but the rest of the visit felt so long since she lost the ability to communicate. Today is Mother's day and her children have gone through the same process you wrote about.
Blessings Cobie

Theresa Kopecky said...

Jentine, thank you so much for this glimpse into your beautiful soul! It is an honor knowing you and your beautiful family through your words. My prayers are with each one of you.
-Theresa

Anonymous said...

My heart felt heavy and my eyes filled up reading about what your dad, you and your family are going through. That was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing and bringing yet more awareness to the reality of Alzheimer's.

amy said...

what a beautiful, brave, and strong woman you are. i watched my mom lose her mother to alzheimers when i was a teenager, and i feel like you voiced everything she went through so eloquently. it's one of the scariest and most heartbreaking diseases on the planet, without a doubt, and you and your family are in my prayers. as you said, for a cure, but more than that, for strength.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. Sending prayers your way.

Kyla said...

:( I love you.

Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry for your struggles. I'm a guy who checks your blog (I know, insert creep factor here) - but not only because you are super attractive, but because you're funny as well. You've provided different insights at times that others do not, I suppose becuase your blog is more 'real'. I appreciate and admire that. I hope the venting helped and admire you more for moving on with something that felt 'fake'.

Seems like your following is with you in spirit. Wish there was something we could do.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Wrapping you in a cyber hug! My Dad had Alzheimers and Parkinsons. I too would take him for an ice cream, or bring him a treat from Starbucks when he was in care. Those little things fill my memory bank with love and joy. I honestly can't remember the darkness. So please keep doing what you're doing, for him and for you. Blessings, Sue

Eelke said...

Dank voor het delen van deze moeilijke periode waar je familie en jij doorheen moeten. Doet mij weer stilstaan bij wat echt waardevol is in het leven.

Olivia said...

I work for a Senior Care company and this Alzheimer's is really just the most heartbreaking thing to see people suffer with. I actually have a DVD that we give to families of people suffering from Alzheimer's. I'd love to send it to you if that's not weird and if you're interested. I just came across your blog and read this post- and I understand how absolutely heart-wrenching this terrible disease is to watch go down. Good luck to you and your family. Stay strong for your dad and that is what will keep him going, even if he doesn't fully understand. Your patience is a virtue and your father would appreciate that if he could. If I could suggest one thing, it's music. If you can find old records of your fathers or tapes- play that for him. For some people it works wonders and it can possibly help keep your father engaged in something.

The DVD I have is really great and informative. If you're interested shoot me an email or visit my blog to contact me. I'll send it to you (it's free). olivianovelle@gmail.com

Best of luck,
Olivia
IWANTTHESESHOES

Meredith said...

My grandma was recently diagnosed. Praying with you, and for you.

Liz said...

I can't imagine the difficulties and sadness you are dealing with, and I don't have any magic words that will make things easier, but do know that the followers of your blog care about the deeper issues in your life.

Don't give up hope for a cure. Take care of yourself and your mom and dad.

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. You expressed yourself so well and I can well imagine your pain, frustration, and feelings of helplessness. My father has cancer in the lungs and liver and is so far symptom free, but I know our days are numbered. It is very sobering to say the least - different, and yet not so different from your situation. My prayers are with you.

Lindsay said...

Oh Yen, reading this post just brought me to tears because it felt like reading the story of my own family. My dad passed away nearly a year ago, and my mom of course, was the primary person to care for him. She had her own health issues, but my dad came first, and there is nothing worse than realizing that your dad thinks he is a burden on the family while realizing the rest of the family thinks that same thought, on some deep level, despite the love and care still given. I miss my dad dearly, even with the distraction of school...
I truly hope that the situation gets better for your father, but in all honesty, it probably isn't going to. I waited for that with my family, and it never came. The only thing I can tell you is to be thankful for the memories you already have with your dad, spend time making new ones, even if they don't go as planned, because they are still memories nonetheless. It hurts like hell to think about, I know, but just know that there are people in your life who will prop you up when you need it, and many more people you've never even met wishing the world for you and your family. I truly hope that thought gives you some comfort and strength..

Jess said...

So sorry to read of what a hard time you and your family are having. I wish you strength. You are so good, holding on to those small moments, supporting your Mum, doing your best. My experience is nothing like yours, but I know the pain of loosing a parent, I am so sorry.

Rebecca Jane said...

My heart just ached for you and your family as I read this. Alzheimer's is such a heartbreaking disease. My late grandfather had it as well and lived with us for about five years after having to give up house when he was no longer able to live on his own. So much of what you said hit home.

It sounds like you and your family are dealing with an impossibly difficult situation with so much grace and strength. Will be praying for you all.

Jill said...

Sometimes God just leads you in that direction. I was out on instragram and as everyone know you can get lost in the instratgram/internet world and all of the sudden you find yourself somewhere on a site that you had no idea existed. That’s where I found your site. I started reading your blog then clicked and found myself on the page about your Father. I found myself all teary eyed because my Mother passed away 7 years ago from Alzheimer’s. My Mother had Alzheimers for about 10 years bless her soul. Enjoy each day for my heart cannot help but think they really do know us and remember us. Alzheimers is much harder on the family than it ever is on the person. For me it was not an easy path to watch my Mother forget such wonderful things. I did make her a photo book and would go over it weekly with faces and names that seem to help. My prayers are with your family.

Wanderlust And Such said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I am going to pray for you and your family as much as I can! I can't imagine what you're going through. You are so strong for posting this.

You're a beautiful person and your blog has always brought joy to my life - a laugh on a down day, inspiration when I felt bored and vacant. And all the great qualities you mentioned about your dad - you have them as well; your blog makes that so clear. I know it's painful to see your Dad losing so much of who he was to you, but just keep remembering that so much of him is in you.

Stay strong, beautiful.

xo
Olivia

Kerri said...

Your post broke my heart and made me smile all at the same time. I hear you...my mother is in a nursing home for Alzheimer's now, and has complications beyond that preventing her staying at home. It's heartbreaking to see and experience, and my father...he is a saint. He has health problems too but sees her every day his complications allow. I am far away and have been blessed with an Alzh support group. I cannot recommend highly enough the support groups. I am praying for your family this morning. We are not alone. You and your dad are beautiful. Good luck.

AlternaviteBlooms said...

Hi Yen,
I am certain we don't know each other, but I do know a little about the pain you speak of. I am not even sure if you check this anymore but I wanted you to know that I think you are so brave to share your thought's and your love. My Dad was diagnosed a few short years ago with with same disease, He is now 67 years old. The mechanic, handyman, and cheerleader of 4 children has been silenced by this diseases. His garage is full of tools he can no longer use, his car has been long sold but his smile can be awakened and he can laugh when we laugh. I have no doubt he too knows the pain of loosing his memory - though he kept quiet about it.
Anyhoo, We (Aim & I) are 36 years old .. old enough not to need Dad anymore but still young enough to want him with us. We get angry at this disease too, we worry about our own future (selfishly) and we cry with our Mom as well. We are a network for each other. God was soo smart when he designed the family unit, what a blessing.
Thinking of you today,

Mel

Anonymous said...

Just reading this today. I feel for you and your family; you are in my prayers. Linda

Anonymous said...

hello Jentine, could you please give my emailadress to your mother? We were friends years ago when we lived in Leeuwarden. f.l.ter.veen@pl.hanze.nl

Fokje ter Veen

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