So, you are in your late 70's and having a hard time remembering what you had for breakfast this morning... you take a trip to the doctor and he tells you that you have Alzheimer's.
No way, I'm just getting old, Right? It can't be Alzheimer's?
What a massive punch in the gut for you and your loved ones! You ask the doctor, what do we do from here? His response, take these pills every morning and walk nine hole of golf every day.
Alzheimer's is such an awful disease, but did he really just prescribe golf as a form of treatment!?! I think we can work with that.
Every morning my granddad wakes up, shaves his face, fixes a cup of coffee and eats a McDonald's sausage biscuit (yes, every morning). Most mornings my grandmom has to remind him to take his pills, but she never has to remind him the play golf... It's funny how the mind works!
Throughout my entire life my granddad has played golf and been an above average golfer. He has a homemade swing and a big curling slice, but you can bank on his ball hitting the center of the fairway nearly every time. Over the past ten years or so he has lost a lot of distance off the tee and touch around the greens, but still has no trouble holding his own at any course he plays.
Before his diagnosis, he had not been playing a lot of golf. He would spend so much time doing things for others that golf seemed to get overlooked. A few months after his diagnosis, I had been busy with work and we had not played golf together for several weeks.
I really wanted to get together with him one day soon, so I called him on a Thursday and we started talking about getting together to play golf that upcoming weekend. I asked him how he was feeling, he said, "fine." I then asked how he was playing and he said, "You know, I've been playing a lot lately and it seems that the more I play the better I get! So, I've really been playing pretty good... for an old man!" He has always had something funny to say about nearly everything, and hopefully always will.
We played golf that weekend and I listened to him reminisce about old times and late friends, as he usually does, but this time it seemed different. Whether it was all in my head or it actually was different, it seemed as if although I had heard these stories 100 times and he knew I had heard them 100 times, this time he thought he was telling me for the first time. This was a memorable day for me, because until this day it had not yet resonated within me that he truly had this disease, and I need to spend as much time with him as possible.
We have always spent a lot of time together, but I would often take these times for granted. I have always appreciated my granddad, but it is sad that we don't truly cherish our loved ones until tragedy or illness strikes. As I mentioned before, there are still so many trips I want us to take together, and the clock is ticking. Time to start scheduling some vacation!
I completely understand that almost everyone reading this does not know my granddad, and may even be wondering why this is being written. Alzheimer's disease has touched so many families, and many of you reading this can relate to our situation. I hope that in writing this, one other person out there can find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their struggle, or maybe I am writing this solely for myself.
I grew up in a small town about 20 miles east of Birmingham, AL. My granddad, my mother, and I (not to mention several aunts, uncles, cousins and relatives) were all raised on this land that my granddad still owns today. From the time I was old enough to walk, my granddad had a golf club in my hand. He cut down some of his old right handed clubs for me to use, but I would turn around and hit them left handed. Once he and my dad finally admitted to themselves that I was a lefty, he bought me some clubs and started teaching me to swing. His house sits on a hill approximately 100 yards from a county road, and he had me in his yard hitting ball after ball until I was good enough to hit it to the road. At this point, it was time to head to the golf course.
As I grew, he took me all over the southeast for junior tournaments and weekend golf getaways. He also never missed a match or tournament that I played, and to this day has never missed a special moment in my life. I never wanted to play golf for a living, but I always wanted to do something in the golf industry. He would try and help me think of something I could do with it, but I chose a different career path, always hoping to come back around to golf.
Almost a year and a half ago now my wife and I had our first child, a baby boy, whom we named after my granddad. I am so very proud to have named him after my lifelong hero, and he has been such a precious gift to our family. Along the same time my son was born, my granddad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. This was possibly the most heartbreaking news I have ever received in my life, but he is completely healthy otherwise and living life to the fullest. I have never met a man so solid in every aspect of his life. Whether it is faith, family or business, you will not find a better man. I have never heard a bad word spoken of him, and if he speaks poorly of someone you can guarantee it is warranted.
All being said, after everything he has done for me, I feel it is my time to start returning the favor! There are still so many things I want to do with him, and so many places I want us to see together, but time is clearly no longer on our side.
So it begins... Our race against time!