Thanks so much!

I know people are wondering what’s going on here at our house.  What happened is this: my father passed away on Tuesday.  He suffered for nearly twenty years with Alzheimer’s Disease, and in many ways I feel that I lost him a long time ago.  Still it’s a shock when it actually happens.  I hate this disease.  I hate how it robs us of the people we love but keeps them lingering on for years. 

I’m the kind of person who usually sheds tears easily in the movie theater, but for almost 24 hours after I got the news, I didn’t cry.  I tend to be a “doer”, so I got to work getting my travel arranged, informing various people, clearing off my calendar, etc.  I kept wondering what was wrong with me — why didn’t I CRY, for god’s sake?  Am I heartless? 

But over the past few days, I’ve felt things starting to sink in.  I’m not sleeping.  I’m scarcely writing.  I’ve spent a lot of time in front of my computer, doing mindless surfing through the net.  Therapy of a kind, I suppose — better than Valium.  

So now I’m packing to fly to San Diego, for a private service.  

I went through my dad’s photo album today — pictures he took while he was a G.I. in Germany during WWII.  It’s almost too much to bear, seeing him as a grinning young man with his jaunty U.S. Army cap.  I think I’ll just close it and wait until I’m ready to look at it again. 

45 replies
  1. Craig
    Craig says:

    Sweetie, I’ve been through the same thing and all I can tell you is that now I don’t really recall the disease, just the person in her prime, a vibrant loving person. The other thing that I’ve noticed is that as I get older and go through experiences such as this it is much easier and more important to let others know I love them. My relationships are even more important now. I will be very surprised if you, a kind caring loving person, don’t experience the same thing. We all love you Tess and if you’re not up to blogging or writing, we understand. I’m going to leave you with a quote from the film version of the Wizard of Oz. To paraphrase it the Wizard tells the Tin Man, “A person is not judged by how much he loves, but by how much he is loved by others.” Keep us posted, love.

  2. Dru Ann L
    Dru Ann L says:

    Tess, I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. You’re dad is at peace.

  3. Gabriele
    Gabriele says:

    My deepfelt condolences, Tess.

    My grandmother suffered from Alzheimer too, and you’re right about having lost her years before she died.

    There’s nothing wrong with not being able to cry at first. When my mother died, I first cried at the funeral, and it was the music that caused it. Now, more than a year later, certain memories still bring tears into my eyes. Grief has its phases.

  4. debergerac
    debergerac says:

    Tess, I am so sorry that you’ve lost your Dad, Alzheimer’s is such a cruel disease. And while you know he’s finally at peace, somehow that knowledge does not make the loss any easier to bear.
    My thoughts and and prayers are with you.

  5. l.c.mccabe
    l.c.mccabe says:


    Grief is a messy, backward sliding process. You think you’ve shed your last tear, and a scent or a sound brings back a memory and the floodgates open again.

    Be gentle with yourself.

    Allow yourself to grieve for your loss. Not only the loss of your father’s life, but for the loss of your father’s companionship for the last twenty years.

    One of the best books I have ever read is “How to Survive the Loss of a Love” by Melba Colgrove, Harold Bloomfield and Peter McWilliams. It is not a book you read from cover to cover. It is a book you open randomly at any page and are surprised at how the advice and poems are the exact ones you needed to read.

    One page shows a line they describe as how one heals. It is a line that goes upward, but rather than a straight line it is jagged like the teeth on a crooked saw.

    What you have described feeling is normal, but it doesn’t make it any easier to go through.

    May you be surrounded by love and support of your dearest friends and family. Take them up on their offers to help.

    Take care,


  6. NewMexicanAnn
    NewMexicanAnn says:

    Tess, I lost my mom suddenly on Thanksgiving Day 2000 and you know what? To this day, I can’t look at a photograph of my mom.

    One of the best things to keep in mind is what I’ve been told about grief. Don’t feel bad about the way you grieve. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.

    I’ve also known people (and have been affected myself) who had loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Someone told me something very important that made me feel better. They told me that people with Alzheimer’s have one foot in this world and when they’ve gone blank, can’t remember stuff, and so forth, they’re busy peering into Heaven and have one foot there, too.

    Take good care of yourself and for your family and your loyal readers here, feel the love!


  7. Jude Hardin
    Jude Hardin says:

    So sorry for your loss, Tess.

    I have dreams sometimes about my lost loved ones. Though gone from this world, they are still with me. Part of them lives on in my heart, and in everything I do.

  8. cjf
    cjf says:

    Tess, I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your father. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  9. RonMercer
    RonMercer says:

    Oh Tess, Patricia and I are so very sorry for your loss. Yes it is a terrible disease. Patricia has lost 3 Aunts to it and I lost my Grandparents from this ugly disease. We know how you feel. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. God be with you all especially during this time of need.

    God bless,
    Ron and Patricia
    Your friends in Newfoundland, Canada

  10. SassyDevil
    SassyDevil says:

    I wish you strength. It’s so hard to lose a parent, and to see them suffer and not be the person you once knew, is devastating. We all grieve in our own way. Some don’t cry. Some cry later. As long as you deal with the grief, that’s what’s important. Take care of yourself.

  11. TamaraMorning
    TamaraMorning says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I know what you mean about feeling you had lost him years ago from the Alzheimer’s. My grandmother had it, and the women in my family tend to get it. I’m hoping desperately not to be the fourth generation. Again, my condolences.

  12. JanetK
    JanetK says:

    Death is always a surprise, isn’t it? No matter how much you think you’re prepared, you never are.

    My thoughts are with you and your family, Tess. Take care.

  13. lwidmer
    lwidmer says:

    It’s odd how the feelings are different when you lose a loved one to this insidious disease. I felt the same way you did – I couldn’t cry right away. It was my grandmother and she was a joy to be around. That is, until Alzheimer’s, which robbed her of not only her memory but her dignity. The paranoia, the fear, the confusion – in the end, I felt the disease took her back to infancy. Yet she was such a strong, independent woman in her prime that I will always remember her real spirit, not the way she was when the disease stripped her of herself.

    I pray you can remember the same spirit that lived in your father. He’s found peace, and I hope you find comfort in that.

  14. Vanessa F
    Vanessa F says:

    I am deeply sorry to hear about your loss. My grandmother has Alzhiemers. She’s in the early stages. But I live several hours away, so I don’t get to see her often. And I know that by the time I have kids of my own (I’m the oldest of her 2 grandchildren) she may not recognize her own great-grandchildren. It’s a hideous disease. I think its probably harder on the caregivers than it is on the sufferers, at least in the later stages. I pray that we find a cure soon.

  15. gingerchambers
    gingerchambers says:

    Sorry to hear of your loss, Tess. As time goes by, try to remember only the good times.

  16. bathussey
    bathussey says:

    My deepest condolences, Dr. Gerritsen. We suspect a family member of mine may have early symptoms of it but he’s not willing to get tested. Stories like yours are giving me the strength to try harder and make sure he gets treatment while he can.

    On an unrelated note, perhaps your father’s WWII story – of a Japanese-American in Europe – would make a compelling novel. If nothing else, writing it might be powerful therapy and a way to honor his life.

    Again, my condolences and sympathies to you and yours.

  17. Norris Marshall
    Norris Marshall says:

    Please don’t feel at all strange about your lack of tears at your father’s passing. I’d have to think that any parent would prefer that his children have a fond smile when they remember him rather than teary eyes. So cry when you must, smile when you can; and remember that you have a lot of friends thinking of you.

  18. Robin
    Robin says:

    Tess, I’m so sorry. When I read this, I thought it was so strange, because I visited my sick father last week and I was out of books, so I reread The Mephisto Club on the way. It was the audio version and it’s odd because I was telling the hubby that the voice was soothing and comfortable, and it made me feel better about facing the inevitable.

    My father was, thin. His belly was dystended and I don’t even want to guess why that is. It’s very hard.

    Anyhow, I don’t know my point, but I’m so sorry about your dad. Please take care of yourself.



  19. Ali M
    Ali M says:

    I’m terribly sorry for your loss Tess. My grandfather died suddenly in october so the thoughts of what your family is going through is fresh in my mind. After a while you will be able to look at the photos, and admire the life and the man he was. Kindest regards to you and your family,

  20. Meike
    Meike says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I work with people with Alzheimer’s, and I know how difficult the disease is. I wish you and your family much strength for the time ahead.

  21. kleighton
    kleighton says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. I wish I had some great words of wisdom for you, but grief is such a personal thing, I don’t feel capable of that. Rest assured, your family, friends and God are all there for you.

  22. drosdelnoch
    drosdelnoch says:

    Hi Tess,
    Sorry to hear about this, my other half lost her Dad around 18 months ago to a Glioblastoma. What I can best suggest is to remind you that although the memories will seem awful now, they will get better, what I did for my other half and what I am suggesting for you is to get yourself a “Dad Box.” a thing for you to place things into for him, for example letters, cards etc.
    It may seem silly to a lot of people but its a good way for you to tell people that you love them without anyone else knowing about it, you can get your feelings out and its a little something that you can look back on when your feeling better.

    It may not work for you but as I said its helped my other half.

  23. Loreal
    Loreal says:

    I’m currently watching my grandfather suffer the effects of this horrid disease. It is now to the point where whenever I do see him he asks where the kids are (my brother and me). He has called me by my mother’s name, and she has been gone for three years now. It pains me to watch him suffer this disease, knowing like your father, he too was also a member of the armed forces in WWII. He was also the fire chief in our small town for several years. I keep praying and firmly believe he knows deep within his heart what is really going on. It may not seem as though we are able to remember what was without thinking of the pain we feel now. But in those moments when we are able to do just that, I have no doubt it helps us to cope (even in some small measure) with what we are facing as the loved ones watching and able to do little. Keep your chin up. Always remember the person you knew before this disease took its hold. That is the person your father would want you to remember when thinking of him.

  24. patry
    patry says:

    Just returned from a book tour to read your sad news. My dad died from the same disease six years ago; reading your post I felt myself nodding in recognition. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

  25. putney1968
    putney1968 says:

    My deepest sympathy. I lost my Dad almost exactly two years ago. I cherish his memory. The bad and sick times are not as prominent as they were in the final days. Now I think more of the lessons I learned, the ones I appreciated right away, but more so the ones that didn’t strike me until I was a father.

  26. Tom Young
    Tom Young says:

    Tess, I’m truely sorry for your loss, I remember looking through my Dad’s stuff when he died. Seeing the things he had kept to himself over the years, his adoption, military pictures, a few treasured possessions. Mostly pictures of us, his kids in various stages of growth and development. I cherish them all and always will before I pass them on to other children. Travel safe and Prayers of comfort

  27. Edie Ramer
    Edie Ramer says:

    My thoughts are with you, Tess. My mother had Alzheimer’s, and it was sad watching her turn so childlike. I thank God she remembered me up to the end.

  28. chris martin
    chris martin says:

    Tess, my heart goes out to you and your family. My sincere condolences for the loss of your father. He sounds like a great guy.

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