I have had a bit of writer's block lately. So much has happened over the past few weeks, but I feel like I have done so little.....
On Wednesday August 31, 2011 my Dad passed away. I miss him.
Growing up, I remember my Dad was always 'young' for his age. He was an adventurous soul who loved to hike, ride horses, play ice hockey, ski, joke, fish, golf, and throw back a few beers and have a good time. Some of the crazier things he did were sky dive and go to bull riding camp. Yes, you read that correctly. My city slicker dad, who wore a suit to work everyday, went to camp to learn to ride bulls!
A few years ago, we noticed some cognitive changes. They were subtle at first, but continued to progress. Suddenly, my 'young' Dad became very old. After a few incorrect diagnoses, my Dad was finally diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia. Frontotemporal Dementia is defined as "disease process that results in progressive damage to the anterior temporal and/or frontal lobes of the brain. The hallmark of FTD is a gradual, progressive decline in behavior and/or language that often has a relatively young age at onset (mid-50s to 60s), but has been seen as early as 21 and as late as 80 years. As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to plan or organize activities, behave appropriately in social or work settings, interact with others, and care for oneself, resulting in increasing dependency".
Even while my Dad's cognitive ability rapidly declined, he still enjoyed physical activity with me and for this reason, we became very close. One summer, I went up to Park City (where my parents live) and did all of my recovery bike rides with Dad. The next, when he was no longer able to safely ride a bike, we walked together.
As my Dad continued to decline, one thing remained constant, his clear and unwavering love for me. I have no doubt that my Dad knew exactly who I was up until the very end. It made my two hour round-trip commute to visit him incredibly rewarding.
Over the past few years I witnessed my father's cognitive and then physical decline and it is ingrained in my head. I am trying to remember my 'young' dad; the one who was a giant goofball, loved horses, played ice hockey in his 50s, and climbed Mount Elbert in his 60s.
I wavered back and forth if I should include this post in my 'athlete with breast cancer blog', but the truth is, life doesn't stop when you have breast cancer and athletes do have 'life' besides training, eating healthy, recovering, and competing.
I love you Dad.
A link to my Dad's obituary