My dad has had some difficult times as his 75th birthday approaches. He is more forgetful than he used to be; he seems to get aggravated more easily; at times he seems to be confused by things that he used to understand; he doesn't always make decisions as prudently as he once did. I love him very much, and I'm having to face the possibility that he may be showing some early-stage signs of Alzheimer's. His mother died of Alzheimer's, so I don't use the term lightly; I have seen what it can do to both the victim and the family.
I love Dad, and I worry about him constantly. Worst of all, though, is that I am not really sure where to go next. Dad has been a dignified, independent, self-sufficient man for all his life, never needing help from others. I think he may need more and more help in months to come.
And just in case Alzheimer's should ever pay me an unwanted visit, or should I suffer massive trauma leaving me incapable of returning to conscious life, I have already told Susan:
Don't let me pull you down, too. Find a place where someone can watch after my physical needs and know that the part of me capable of understanding wants you to enjoy life as best you can for both of us.
And should I ever reach the point that I my mind is gone but my body can be sustained, don't do it. I will have moved on. I'm not convinced that my existence ends at the time the last gasp of life leaves this body; I think that there is something that will continue long afterwards... and I think it will have already begun its journey. So let me go, and never regret that it was the right thing to do.
And when that's done, scatter a small dusting of ashes at 3 Marchmont Drive, where I found happiness as a child; at 621 Olive Street, where we found happiness as a married couple; at 3428 Canton Road, where I was lucky enough to begin a long-lived career in comics retailing; at North Cobb High School, where I discovered my true passion; at Mom and Dad's gravesite, so that our family is always together; and here at 2770 Carillon Crossing, where I have truly felt at home.
When the time comes—and I hope it's far, far away—remind Susan of what I've said here. We don't always remember when we need to, even when our minds are working well...