There are so many things that Alzheimer’s takes from a person, and from those who love him.
The scope is so big and so profoundly heartbreaking that I don’t think I’ll ever find the words to be able to capture it.
But one thing that Alzheimer’s hasn’t yet taken from us is the ability to live fully and completely in a moment.
Yesterday, I sat with my father and told him how much I loved him. As I did so I was living fully and completely in that moment. And so was he.
I told him that the life he’s led has been an example to me and that I aspire to one day be like him. I told him he’s lived with Φιλότιμο. It’s a word that means honor and integrity and morality and so much more — it’s really hard to translate. I told him the highest compliment someone can pay me is to say that I remind them of my father. I told him these things and others too, and as I said them every molecule of who I am was working so hard to fully communicate them. And every ounce of who my father is was working so hard to fully comprehend and appreciate what I was saying.
We were both working so hard to live fully and completely in that moment.
(I didn’t mention that most of the time people tell me I remind them of my mother.)
When I took this picture, I wasn’t living fully in the moment. And neither was my father.
It’s been more than 10 years now. Maybe it’s been 15. I got up before dawn with him that morning so that we could hike up to Agios Elias before the day got too hot. It’s well outside of the village and it’s uphill the whole way.
I carried my burdens with me up that mountain. I suppose they’re the typical things a young(er) working mom would be carrying — angst about things that had happened with the kids or at work; anxiety (and hope) about all the things that were to come.
I’ve had many mornings since the morning I took that picture. And I still carry lots of those things around with me.
But yesterday, on Father’s Day, I understood what it meant to live fully and completely in a moment.
And I was so thankful for that. It’s the thing that Alzheimer’s hasn’t yet taken from me.