My Name isn’t Frank

I was 11 years old when my grandmother passed away and my grandfather had to live with us because of his affliction with Alzheimer’s disease. I loved my grandfather. I had fond memories of working with him in his garden, going to “Tasty Dog” for a hot dog and chips, and sharing a Mr. Goodbar with him. When he moved in with us, I didn’t fully comprehend what Alzheimer’s had done to him. I envisioned us taking frequent visits to Tasty Dog where I would hear stories about the escapades of my dad and aunt when they were younger. The first time I was to really understand something was different was the day Pappaw called me “Frank”. My name isn’t Frank. My dad is Frank, I am Trey. At first, I thought it was just a slip. Who doesn’t mix up names from time to time? Besides, everyone always told me I looked exactly like my dad when he was my age. It wasn’t a slip up though, he insisted I was Frank and wanted to know where Rethell was. Rethell, my grandmother, had passed away several months before so I couldn’t understand why he was asking for her. He knew what had happened, he had been at the funeral. Why was my grandfather asking for her?

For the the next year, I watched as my grandfather confused names and occurences. I watched him forget what year it was, sometimes even forgetting what decade we were in. I watched a man who was very kind and quiet for most of my life become angry and verbally lash out at people. I watched as my dad had to help him shave, dress, bathe himself, and use the restroom. I watched as he had to hear the news of my grandmother’s death time and time again.

I have many fond memories of my grandfather that I will always keep with me. But the last years of his life, my last memories of him, were spent in pain and frustration. I didn’t cry at my grandfather’s funeral. I missed him and I loved him dearly but I found myself unable to cry. I couldn’t cry because I was too happy for him. I knew that while I would miss him, he was no longer constrained by this debilitating disease that changed him.

I don’t want others to experience what I experienced. I’ve decided to honor my Pappaw by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. As a part of the walk, I’ve pledged to raise $500 towards research funding for prevention and a cure. You can help by donating towards my campaign. If we work together, we can bring an end to Alzheimer’s.

DONATE HERE

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To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and the research being done to prevent it and cure it, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website.