In June of 2017, I was busy making plans for the summer. I had just completed my pre-summer project in my backyard, a treehouse for my granddaughter that was going to blow the socks right off of my super dad. I called him super dad because he looked like 50, built, no wrinkles and acted as if he was 20. He was my confidant, my best friend and a mother to me since she died when I was 10. At that time, I was lost in my thoughts of celebrating with my dad after the unveiling of my project. I daydreamed about the expression on his face, his disbelief and the pride he would feel after seeing and knowing that his daughter had inherited his woodworking skills. I had a ticket booked for his arrival in July. That day never came. Instead, I received a phone call from Trinidad that he was unconscious in a hospital and had suffered a massive stroke. I was outside cleaning up my backyard, staring right at the treehouse when the call came in. To make a long story short, I flew down to Trinidad the next day, only to be told by the doctors that he only had a short time to live; they had given him a week and was sending him home to die. I stayed with him for almost six months, nursing him back to some type of stable condition. When he was well enough to sit up without his eyes rolling up in his head, I brought my dad home with me to Canada. At the time, I could not let him die, I could not give up on him. I refused to leave him behind and if he was going to die, it was going to be after I had a chance to do all that I could do. The reality of the entire situation only hit me when I brought him home and realized that I was alone. I was alone in the sense that I was his only caregiver, not his primary, his only caregiver. I didn’t have help in Trinidad but for some reason, I thought that maybe I could get a little help when I got home. The reality was that my dad and I were alone. I had to continue to bathe him on my own, change, feed, exercise, entertain, everything that needed to be done, I did it ninety-nine percent of the times unassisted, in my home and with a brace for my back that I bought off of Amazon. I got him a hospital bed, a couple of wheelchairs, special foods and supplements, diapers by the boxes and whatever else he needed.
After two months of sore backs, sore throats from lack of sleep and wondering if I was going to survive another day, I went online to The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. It was late after 12 am when I came across the section that allows people to share their stories. It was like someone had offered to take a load off of me and I unleashed everything that was building up inside without second thoughts. I typed, I cried and continued this way until I was ready to stop. After that, I started exploring the website for help; any opportunities that my dad in his condition would be able to benefit from. He was paralyzed on his right side, he was suffering depression, he had Alzheimer’s and Dementia and he was physically aggressive at times. Through the Alzheimer’s Society, I was able to find solace in knowing that I was not alone. There was an entire Society behind me. My dad was not Canadian and there was a lot that he missed out on, but thanks to the Alzheimer’s Society I was able to get different types of help. They were especially helpful in preparing me for all of the different stages of my dad’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia. They prepared me for what I was going through and for what to expect until the very end. I joined a support group for caregivers and I looked forward to those meetings. I applied for an MP3 player through the Alzheimer’s Society music project. My dad used to be a musician. They listed all of his favorite music on the MP3 player that I used every day to help keep him calm during his cleaning and changing times. I applied and received an expense grant that allowed me $700. Which I used towards a generous supply of wipes, diapers and Ensure supplements. I felt that I had support throughout the most difficult time of my life as the Alzheimer’s Society was doing everything that was possible for me with my limitations and my unusual circumstances. I felt that I could die, that it was too much for me to keep it all together until I found help at the Alzheimer’s Society. If it wasn’t for the Alzheimer’s Society, I wouldn’t be where I am today emotionally. My dad finally succumbed to it all on November 15th, 2018. I watched him take his last breath. I held him, kissed him, smelled him, put our heads together and said goodbye as my life changed forever. After all that, I was able to attend one last caregiver support meeting to say goodbye to everyone; all the other caregivers that were yet to experience their own loss. I was able to speak with an intake coordinator from the Alzheimer’s Society in regards to a referral for a bereavement support group. In fact, I feel somewhat attached to Alzheimer’s Society now that he’s gone. I feel compelled to give back in some way. I survived that ordeal with one organization that became my help and my guide. I am a musician. I make music for a living, which means that I don’t have a lot of money and I can’t afford to give a lot, but I can still use my art or my time to donate to the Alzheimer’s Society and I hope to inspire others to do the same. I feel as though all of the knowledge and strength that I’ve gained from my experience, must somehow amount to something greater. I will forever be grateful to the Alzheimer’s Society. As I look ahead to the future, I am humbled and inspired to be a voice, and in some way, an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society. I am now in a position to tell others that the Alzheimer’s Society is there to help. Moreover, we should all support the Alzheimer’s Society because they truly make a difference in the lives of so many. I’m really hoping that my short summary of a long story can inspire others to do the same. Despite my extreme circumstances, the Alzheimer’s Society was still able to help someone like my dad and I am a testament of that support.