Arguably the hardest but most life-affirming “work” I will ever do was caring for my darling father, Johnny.
He was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s when he was 55. The consultant told my mother that it would “ten years from beginning to end”. I reflect on that statement and find it saddening – like my dad had been written off before he had even left the consulting room.
As it happened it was not ten years. Dad spent 20 years with us living with Alzheimer’s. He died on the morning of 27 December 2018 and my heart breaks to write that because without my role as a carer life seems utterly meaningless. Nothing will ever be as important, as profound, as exhausting and as utterly full of love as caring for someone.
It is too early to write extensively on this for me. But I would add that although 20 years is a long time to prepare to say goodbye, do not think that it makes any easier.
Every day was a day more with my father and I was greedy for more. When he died all the trials and traumas he had gone through, all the things he had lost over the years came together to form a huge, relentless grief which continues unabated.
When the time finally came to say goodbye to dad I realised the long goodbye that people refer to regarding Alzheimer’s disease would never be long enough.
Goodbye dad. I love you and always will.