Betsy Brooks’ father, Charles Brooks, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was 78. Here, Betsy tells her boyfriend, John Grecsek, about her relationship with her dad.
Betsy Brooks (BB): We butted heads from the moment we could. He was a proud Marine, and I always say that we learned the Marine Corps hymn before we knew our ABC’ s. He was a meticulous man. He was meticulous about the house and the yard. And he was a perfectionist. His favorite tool was his level. I was just cut from a different cloth.
My mother, she would make these lists of, you know, all my day’s crimes. She would save them for my father when he came home from work, and he would turn positively livid. So, the day I turned eighteen, I got myself my own apartment.
John Grecsek (JG): When did the Alzheimer’s start?
BB: It started to become obvious that he wasn’t himself. He was a razor sharp person, but he started not to be able to do simple things. I remember one time I asked him to make some picture frames for me. He loved to do that sort of stuff. When I came home after work, you know, my mother called me up and she said, ”Please, do me a favor and don’t ask him to make any more. He had such a hard time. You know, he was so confused.”
Eventually, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and all of a sudden he turned to me because he knew that if he had every single drawer out from the dresser out on the floor, I really couldn’t care less. So he didn’t really hide from me. We would sit on the back porch and eat pistachio nuts and share a beer. And I could tell him my secrets, and I got to enjoy all the good that was in him. I love my father tremendously. And believe me when I tell you, despite the head butting, all I ever wanted to do was to please him.
The past twelve years since he got sick, I wouldn’t trade those twelve years for anything. Except I wish the price to pay for them wasn’t so high.