A portrait of an older man in a mechanic's coveralls is surrounded by hearts and other mechanic tools like nuts, bolts, wrenches, etc.

Meet Andy, My Dad: The Man I Lost to Alzheimer's

When we hear the words Alzheimer’s or dementia, some pretty sad thoughts come to mind. Loss is a big one. The person's achievements were lost; their personality was lost, they are gone. But do they have to be?

Reflecting on my dad's life

As I felt the sadness of my dad’s birthday the other day and him not being with us anymore, it made me reflect back on who he was, his achievements, his personality. I’d like to share that with you.

My dad was a son, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a father-in-law, an uncle. He was a skilled tradesman, an instrument mechanic. He could be a bit of a sh*t disturber at work. That was part of who he was. Not to any bad degree but I’m being truthful here. It seemed to serve him well.

My dad growing up

Dad was a strict disciplinarian. He had rules. We had to abide by them. Most of the time we did. Most of the time. Getting grounded was part of the consequences if you didn’t toe the line. And there were other consequences imposed.

I recall my two brothers who shared a room had been told repeatedly to clean up their room. When this didn’t happen they came home one day to find everything in the room piled on their beds. Took them hours to put the room back together so they could go to bed. Being the youngest, when I was told to clean up my room, I did. And quick! My two brothers and I turned out pretty well because of Dad's and Mom’s parenting strategies.

My dad as a member of the Lion's Club

Dad was a member of the Lion’s Club for many years. I recall all the Christmas parties the Lions club held for children in our community. My dad was part of the organizing, fundraising, picking up donated gifts and distributing those gifts to the children on the day of the party. We were allowed to go when we were young.

This is when I also learned that my Dad was a poet. The one I remember most that still makes me burst out in laughter was written about Randolph the Reindeer. The story was that Randolph, who was not as well known as Rudolph, ran behind Rudolph. Dad's poem went like this.

“Randolph the Reindeer,
All noble and slick.
He could run just as fast,
But he couldn’t stop as quick.
Randolph the Brown Nosed Reindeer.”

As a kid, that was hilarious. Even my kids liked that one.

There were also the yearly skating Christmas parties dad took us to from his work. It was always so exciting. It was Dad and us kids. Mom took a break from us all then. LOL.

My dad as a gun owner

There was a period when dad was a gun owner. This was a hobby of his. I reflect back on this with some discomfort because it was so foreign to many of us at that time. He was a legal gun owner.

Dad really liked making his own bullets and taking his pistol to the gun club to shoot at targets. I distinctly remember the day Dad gave up his hobby. He came home from the gun club quite upset. That was the day the targets were pulled down and silhouettes of people were up to shoot at. Dad came home, called the local police, and told them he no longer wanted his guns. The police arrived 15 min later. Dad surrendered his hobby. I was very proud of my dad.

Other fun & hilarious memories with my dad

Then there were the fun, hilarious times. There were some pretty good hills in the area that Dad made sure we tried when winter came. Tobogganing! What a blast! Over and over for hours. That was how we spent our Sundays in the winter.

Every Sunday in the summer our family, along with my Dad’s sister and her family, went to Point Pelee National Park. We’d find our day use campsite, usually the same one year after year. Down to the water we’d go. Swimming, beaching, BBQing at the campsite, and a whole day of just fun. On the way home, every Sunday, we stopped at an ice cream parlour. There were 5 in our car, and 6 in my Aunt and Uncle’s car.

Every Sunday, Dad and Uncle John took down in great detail what ice cream each kid wanted: Type of ice cream, sprinkles or not, chocolate dip or not, and so on. Then we’d wait in anticipation for that special ice cream we ordered, and every week we all got vanilla. Every week, Dad and Uncle John promised they would get us what we requested. Every week we got vanilla. We never caught on.

Dad occasionally got in trouble from Mom too. One very snowy day with all of us in the car, Dad decided to do donuts in the empty parking lot. Now my mom rarely got mad, but this was not ok with her. She reamed him out BIG time. He never did that again.

I remember when my dad went back to night school to do some upgrading. He said the younger tradesmen were working in instrumentation that was new to him. He wanted to learn, to stay current. Again, I was so proud of him.

So there you have it. Despite what Alzheimer’s could take away from my dad, it couldn’t take away all the great things he did. And how he loved us. I miss my dad but I have some great memories.

Andy with a dog in a park

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