It is at once a tired cliche' and a terrible truism that life isn't fair. None of us are safe from calamity. But sometimes, fate seems to take a wicked swipe at very good people in the worst way. I read with sadness and respect the letter that Ronald Reagan wrote when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Odd, I thought, and awful that those who have lived such rich and colorful lives should be deprived of the memories of such a journey.
But life isn't fair. As I sit here, struggling to put into words feelings that are caught in my throat, I think it would be best to just state it: So it is with my Dad's permission that I pass along his recent diagnosis of Alzheimer's. We've suspected, but we now have confirmation. As with most things, Dad has taken things with grace and humor. He said he can't remember what it was he was supposed to forget, so with that characteristic smile, he sees it as a simplification of life in general. Plus, he looks forward to hiding his own easter eggs anytime of the year he feels like it. Dad's wit is still very much alive, as evidenced by our recent discussion on whether or not the Christmas song, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" was in fact an act of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (the word Merry being of dubious meaning). But the little things,…what day of the week it is, or the need to repeat information several times in a conversation, betray the insidious nature of the disease.
I find myself thinking of the unfairness, of course. Here is a person who has served our country in uniform, who served God and others while in the ministry, who leaves in his wake a sea of smiles and laughter at his ebullient personality and effervescent humor. A person whose father was a share cropper's son, whose family is overflowing with colorful stories and hilarious people, who at the age of 71, has every right to look back on a life well lived and simply chuckle at the memories,..and here is a disease that will rob him of that priceless treasure. And rob his family of enjoying those memories with him. That my friends, simply isn't fair.
I read in the Good Book that we won't be given more than we can bear,..and that all things work to the good for those who love Him. I believe it to be true and yet,….and yet I find myself asking why. It's not an improper question, is it? The inquisitive nature was instilled in me by the Almighty after all, so why should it be blasphemy to employ it?
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26
And even as The Savior showed his love for us, so too can we, as Dad's family, show our love and thanks for him by meeting his needs as events and circumstances dictate. Who knows what further bonds will strengthen, or how many more lives will be touched over time. I don't have the answers. Would to God that I did. But I do know that my Dad will not lack for care or the things he needs. I've seen that happen in at least one instance,…and it will not happen on my watch. There may come a point when he doesn't even know who we are,…but he will know that he is surrounded by people who love him and will spare no effort to insure his comfort and well being, and that is exactly as it should be. That's what family does.