I am not trying to be morbid this morning, but I was thinking back to a couple of different funerals that I have attended over the years and it made me think of how much Alzheimer’s is defining who dad is in his later years. How very unfair to him! Because mom and dad moved to Fayetteville to an assisted living facility over two years ago, dad in particular, has had little contact with their neighbors and family that were left behind in Washington. At the time that they moved, dad was displaying aggressive and paranoid tendencies. Their large social circle had reduced, partly because as you get older, it is harder for friends to get out and about, but I also think that some people didn’t know how to talk to dad.
It is my hope that his friends, family and neighbors will remember the easy going man that worked all of the time. He was always willing to help others. While he was teaching, he gave his FFA kids and students so much of his time and energy. If he was home, he was working in his much loved yard and playing on the farm. He loved to visit with neighbors and he and mom knew everything that was going on in the neighborhood.
I don’t want him to be associated only with the Alzheimer’s, although it consumes our life right now. Although it is all important right now, this unfair Alzheimer’s is only a blip in his lifeline. He will be 87 years old this year. Alzheimer’s has been around for about 7 of those years. But he had a wonderful, full life for 80 years and that should count for something. I don’t mean for this to sound like a eulogy, but I get so caught up in the daily care that I need to remind myself to remember all of the things that he did and that we shared over the years. He is a great father and a better husband. He was a great neighbor and he loved his family. Those are all of the things that I remember when I visit with him and the things that I want to remind others about him. I think that it is time to get the photo box down again and go through them. Although it makes me cry, it brings back so many happy memories that I should be able to be remembering with him right now, but that is not possible. So, I will continue to do this for him and remind others of the things that have mattered in his life. That is one sweet man!
For those of you that have not read my posts from the very beginning, I grew up on a dirt road in rural Beaufort County. We lived in a house that my parents built right beside my grandparents on a farm that had been in my family for over 100 years. This is the farm that my dad grew up on. It is called the Old Ford Community. Our neighbors in that community were the people that dad grew up with, went to school and church with. They were our extended family. These friends/family were very helpful over the last couple of years that mom and dad lived there before they had to move. Middle of the night emergencies, repairs at the house, rides here and there, so much support from people that truly loved mom and dad and were loved by them. This is the type of community where people stop by in the middle of the day and bring you a pie that they had just baked or a jar of jelly that they had just canned. They also gossiped about each other and I don’t think that there was much that went on that
someone or everyone didn’t know about.
Over the years, we lost some loved members of our community. I kind of lost touch for a while as I left the area when I graduated high school. But I remember visiting with Mrs. Dallas, across the street, at her house. I remember seeing Mr. Rochelle and Mr. Benny Ray at the country store when I would go with dad or stopping by their house to visit. I bought my first horse from Mr. Durwood. I know that I am missing more that we have lost from that area. I grew up with their children and we played together, went to school together, rode the school bus together and often rode horses together.
We are getting older and that older generation is in their 80’s and 90’s now. Mr. Linwood died a couple of weeks ago. That man always had a smile on his face and a joke. He always stopped by mom and dad’s house in later years and asked if they had any trash to take to the trash dump. If he saw my car there, he would stop just to say hello. It makes me sad that dad is not conscious of the deaths of his friends and neighbors. We don’t tell him, as he doesn’t remember people by name and doesn’t comprehend the concept of death. Mom, Kathy and I traveled to the funeral because we wanted to let the family know that they were in our thoughts and prayers. I know that dad would have wanted to be there and possibly would have been a pallbearer. He would want for us to represent the Hodges family since he can not do that now.
How sad I was when I heard that Mrs. Libby had fallen and died a couple of days later. What a shock. Yes, she was older, but I don’t know of many more active people around than Mrs. Libby. My husband is very outspoken and he met her several years ago at mom and dad’s anniversary celebration. She flirted with him and was her usual blunt, wonderful self. He fell in love with her. He doesn’t know many people in the community, but he always asked about Mrs. Libby! When I would pick mom and dad up and take them to town for an appointment or to go out to eat, when we would pull up to the stop sign at Hwy 17, dad would always wave out the window. He would say, I know that Libby is looking out the window to see who is going by. We always thought that was hilarious, as he would do the same thing from his recliner in the living room. I am sure that the two of them had most of the neighborhood covered. I am very sad today that I can not represent dad at her funeral. Mom has an eye appointment at Duke that I am scared to reschedule. I hope that Mrs. Libby knows how much she was loved and will be missed. I know that the Old Ford community is banding together in the face of so many recent losses. You do not find communities like this very often and I was very fortunate to have been part of it growing up.