I asked Brett if I could write about this because writing is (free) therapy to me, and I’ve needed a little therapy this week. So, here it goes…
A few years ago Brett’s dad was diagnosed with dementia. Back then, his symptoms were not consistent and at times, not very noticeable. There were small things that seemed a little “off”, but dementia is such a gradual process that it’s hard to even pin point exactly when things changed. All we knew was that he was changing, and there wasn’t really anything we could do to stop it.
That’s a hard reality to accept.
For me, feeling helpless is one of the worst feelings in the world. I’m a doer. A go-getter. A problem-solver. When I see a need, I have to fill it. Especially when it comes to my husband. I don’t know how to sit still. I don’t know how to be idle. I know how to get down on my knees and pray, but sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough. I don’t know how to stand by and watch my husband hurt. I don’t know how to stand by and watch my husband’s father slowly turn into a person he is not.
Brett always tells me stories about his dad. About the good ole days when his dad was “the man”. Even though I never knew Gene as that person, I believe it from the bottom of my heart. Because only a man like that could have raised a man like my husband.
I owe Gene a lot, actually, and I regret that I never told him that before this disease started to take over his mind. If I could go back in time, almost seven years ago, I would have expressed my gratitude for the future that was about to unfold. I would have said thank you.
Thank you for raising Brett to be the man that he is today. Thank you for teaching him to be a hard worker, and how to pursue his passions and provide for his family. Thank you for teaching him to be selfless. God knows I’m not. Thank you for showing him how to care for others. Thank you for coaching him in every sport and raising him to be an athlete. I love watching Brett on the basketball court, and yes I know how good he is (even though you still remind me every chance you get). Thank you for teaching him how to be competitive, and how to be proud of not only his own accomplishments, but the accomplishments of those around him. Thank you for teaching Brett how to be an amazing, supportive, patient, and loving husband.
And above all else Gene, thank you for being a perfect dad.
Because if Brett is half the father you were to him, our kids will be the luckiest kids in the whole world.
And I will never, ever, be able to thank you enough for that.