Alzheimer’s and Eagle Scouts

My dad had Alzheimer’s. It is a horrible disease and I pray that a cure will be found soon.  About the time my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we had moved him and my mom in a mobile home on our property which is in a rural area. My dad had never run away before but one evening he took off running and didn’t stop. He was just gone and we were all in a panic. There are several wooded areas around our home and it was getting close to night. On top of that it was getting cold and a drizzle of rain had started. A search ensued.  Several people gathered and we searched high and low. My mind was swimming in fear of him being lost, alone and afraid. Little did I know, he was having the time of his life. He was putting all of his Eagle Scout survival skills into action.

A couple of hours later, a rural neighbor spotted him near a wooded area which was about a mile or two from home. We’d found him! As I approached him, he was chuckling with a big smile on his face. The first thing he said was “you walked right by me and didn’t see me. I was hiding in a ditch with leaves over me as camouflage”.  A mixture of relief, irritation and then pride swept through me.

What had caused me fear, gave him a couple of hours of freedom from his inner prison. He’d had a couple of hours where he was in control of his life and he was able to have a great adventure. I’m glad he had that time of feeling proud in duping us all. For a brief period, he had the upper hand. I love you dad.

 

Begin at the beginning

Hmmm. So much to share but don’t know where to begin so I will begin my story with my first traumatic experience at age 5. My father committed suicide. The last memory of my father is of him coming to my Aunt’s house. We were playing outside. He came to the yard, put us in the car and drove away. I remember that I was excited because this was going to be a surprise for my mother. “Is it perfume?” I asked. I don’t remember his answer but I know it wasn’t the surprise.

A little backstory: my mother wanted to divorce my father. She had met another man who made her feel loved and special. This other man was also married. I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of what transpired between the two of them and don’t need to know. I don’t blame my mother or the other man or my father. Anyway, my mother and the other man arranged a meeting with their current spouses and stated that they wanted to divorce and marry each other. Long story short, my mother decided to give her marriage another try and we all picked up and moved for a fresh start.

Sometime shortly after, in a new State, my father intercepted letters between my mother and the other man. At the time of the big “S” (suicide), the other man was in the same vicinity and he and my mother had made contact. The other man wanted to take mother, me and my siblings back to our original home town. He felt like we were all in danger.

Back to the big “S” …. My father drove us to our house, took us inside, sat us down and told us to stay there. In the meantime, my mother discovered we were missing. My aunt and my mother pulled up outside in my aunt’s car. My oldest brother, seeing a chance to escape, grabbed me and my other brother and ran out the door. I’m 5. I have no real idea of what is going on. We are on the steps leading down from the porch. My mom is at the bottom of the steps screaming for us to get in the car. We get in the car. My Aunt tells us to get down in the floorboard. I can’t resist looking up and out the car window. My father is on the porch pointing a gun alternately at himself and at my mother. She is yelling “go ahead, you can’t hurt me anymore”. He slowly shakes his head and walks inside the front door. Mother gets in the passenger side of the car and my aunt drives away.

I will share more of this story later. My heart is pounding and it is still so overwhelming. I’ve had 55 years to come to terms with it but I need a break before I continue.