Don Sloan is a brave man who has served his country, devoted his life to his family, and is slowly losing the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
For those of you that arent familiar with Alzheimer’s, it is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions.
And perhaps worse of all, there is no cure.
But this post isn’t an education in Alzheimer’s. It’s a post to remember a man, share with you a glimpse into the life of a great man.
He was much too young to join the military but he snuck aboard the ship only to be discovered much later. By that time, it was too late to return him to shore. So he got to stay. He served several years in the military but he neverreally liked to talk about those years as most people don’t.
He met and married my grandma, Claudine, in December of 1953. Soon after, my mother was born. Followed by my aunt #1 and my aunt #2.
He always worked hard at whatever he did and gave it his all. He is a man that put his family first in life. His family was life.
I’m not as close to my grandpa as I wish I were it has I used to be growing up but I have some great memories of him.
One of my favorites is when my sister and I were younger and my grandpa worked as a janitor at a high school. He would take us with him while he cleaned. He would take time to play basketball with us. We had so much fun, laughing at each other when we missed, cheering each other on with every swish of that black striped orange globe as it passed through the net.
I remember sitting with him as we fished.
I remember having talks about life and responsibility.
I remember his advice. “Work hard, do your best and never forget: whatever you put into something is what you will get out of it.”
I love those memories. I love my grandpa. And this awful disease is destroying him.
The last time I went to see him, only a few months ago, he had no idea who he was. But he would smile at me every time I caught his eye. It was big, beaming, and wonderously childlike. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
There are a lot of things he doesn’t remember. But he remembers my grandma-his ‘doll’.
You can see the love and delight in his eyes every time he sees her. His bright blue eyes follow her every move. They have been married 65 years, nearly 66 and even though he’s losing almost every memory of his daughters, his grandkids, and his great grandkids, he still remembers her.
I am planning to go see him again this month and I am going to bring along my family. He will most likely not remember me or them and while that hurts, it’s okay but we will remember him. I will remember him.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and allowing me to share a little bit about the man that i call grandpa.