A Prayer from my Dad: Hope, Inspiration and Alzheimer’s

Recently, when he was told it was Sunday, Dad asked if we were going to have a “service or a blessing.” Although he leads us in grace for every meal, he has never asked about this before. I put together a short service for us around the kitchen table with a reading and a prayer. I asked what hymn he would like to sing, and he began to sing The Lord’s Prayer. Although we sing throughout every day, I don’t recall ever hearing him sing this before. We had recited the Lord’s Prayer at church on Christmas Eve recently so perhaps that stirred his memory.

By the time he was done we were all in tears. It was such a clear reminder that although Alzheimer’s alters his brain, the true, sweet simple essence of Dad’s soul – who he really is – is most certainly intact and shines genuinely and brightly. We are not just our minds or our bodies – the soul alone is truly real.

My goal for 2012 was simple: mindfulness. I wanted to get better at living in the moment. I can see that mindfulness helped me through the challenges of 2012 – and there were many for our family. I have learned to better recognize the important moments and focus on them. This moment with Dad was one that I will treasure forever and I’m grateful that I was able to be fully present for it. I’m glad I didn’t forego the “service” because I had so many other things on my to-do list for the day. I’m glad I am able to get outside myself and focus on them. With Alzheimer’s and the other health issues my parents battle, the moments are so precious.

I know there will be more challenges and changes for us in 2013, but this moment made it so clear to me that we will get through them with our faith and the love of our family and, despite his illness, with the leadership of my Dad.

I am grateful that I was able to video Dad’s song and prayer, and I want to share it with you. It felt like an appropriate finish to the challenging year we, and so many others, have had and a blessing for the year ahead. Somehow it brought me hope, something I’ve been struggling with lately when it comes to my caregiving responsibilities. This is not about any particular faith or religion; it’s about realizing the simplicity of joy and recognizing the key moments of our lives. I hope it touches you and brings inspiration too, and that you’ll share it with others.

May 2013 bring you triumphs and blessings along with your challenges.