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Alzheimer’s will never make me forget my vow

Posted on August 7, 2014 by Taber Times

I don’t want to understand this horror

There’s a weight in your eyes, I can’t admit

Everybody ends up here in bottles

But the name tag’s the last thing you wanted

As the world explodes we fall out of it And we can’t let go because this will not go away

There’s a house built out in space…

I can’t see that thief that lives inside of your head

But I can be some courage at the side of your bed

And I don’t know what’s happening and I can’t pretend

But I can be your, be your…

Someone help us understand who ordered

This disgusting arrangement; time and the end

I don’t want to hear who walked on water

Cause the hallways are empty, clocks tick

Our Lady Peace’s song ‘Thief’ from their Album ‘Happiness…Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch’

Every single time I play this song from around my college days I think of my Grandpa Price and his battle with Alzheimer’s while I was in high school.    

Today I will embark on a bit of an experiment where I will attend Linden View where they have three care cottages designed to provide assistance and residence for persons with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Once there, for a few hours I will be treated and cared for exactly as an Alzheimer’s patient would.

When Steph Giroux-Feininger, a person whose own family has known the pain of Alzheimer’s and has fundraised for the care wing of Linden View, asked me if I’d like to participate in the event, I jumped at the chance.

I’d like to paint this heroic picture of myself with how I dealt with my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s as a know-it-all teenager, but I simply can’t. I was not there for my grandfather when he needed me most.

My parents had moved to British Columbia and I moved in with my aunt to finish high school with my friends in Lethbridge when he descended into the worst parts of Alzheimer’s. Grandpa Price had his better days with his Alzheimer’s, but at his worst I did not want to be there. With Grandpa Price yelling and screaming, disorientated. not knowing who the people were in front of him at times, I retreated from my grandfather.

My grandpa would come over to my aunt’s for supper on some of his care days, and  I would scurry downstairs to my room with plate in hand away from the dinner table, scared of what might happen.

Later on after Grandpa Price passed away, I cried, wishing I could get back the time I squandered with him.

I’ve told this story many times to family and friends in which they have said the same thing over and over to comfort me.

That I was a teenager and I didn’t know better. I knew better — any way you slice it, I was a coward.

I wanted the easy times with my grandfather. I wanted those times he would stick out his dentures to give his grandchildren a chuckle. I wanted those times where my belief in Santa Claus was waning as a child and Grandpa and Grandma Price made me believe again. I wanted those late-night game sessions with my cousins in my grandpa’s basement playing Pong, in-between wrestlefests.

I wanted my grandfather during the good times, because apparently I couldn’t be there for him during the bad ones.

Playing pop psychologist, maybe the speed of agreeing to Steph’s request has been borne through guilt, trying to make amends from one of my darkest times more than 20 years ago. Who knows, but I do want to better understand the disease that robbed my grandfather of his quality of life in his later years.

I can say out of those darker times has emerged some of the brightest lights in my life.

I vowed from that day on, never again will I turn my back on someone I care about, be it family, close friend or girlfriend in any capacity they need me in. I don’t want to hear who walked on water. Cause the hallways are empty, clocks tick.

I view that line from Our Lady Peace’s ‘Thief’ of not wanting to hear who walked on water as meaning talk is cheap.

You can say you care about someone, but if those hallways are empty, like they were with me as I dealt with my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s, they are just words.

I will make time each and every year to visit family, be it in Lethbridge, Edmonton, Great Falls, Nanaimo, Arizona etc. and never use the excuse of being ‘too busy.’

I will make time for my close friends, and not only with rounds of golf, watching a sporting event, going to a house party, or road trips to Vegas. But, also just an attentive ear and a shoulder to lean on if they are going through some tough times or just want to talk about life over a nice scotch.

With whatever relationship you have in your life, there is telling people you care about them and then there is showing —through both good times and bad. That is what the true meaning of love is and one I will always try to adhere to, to the best of my ability. A vow I’ve made since my Grandpa Price’s death.

I vow to no longer be a coward in showing people how I care about them no matter what the life circumstance— time is short with the cherished people in your life, make the most of it.  

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