Jun 132017
 

The fact that my dad even knows who Matt is feels quite incredible. My dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease 11 years ago, and my husband Matt came into our lives just three years ago.

What makes my heart soar is how they’ve become best buddies. My dad still lives at home with my mom, his soulmate turned full-time caregiver. While he cannot be left alone, dress himself, buckle his seatbelt, or even open the door, when Matt is around, his former self shines through. The two are downright squirrely together!

When Matt and I got engaged, we decided to have a small ceremony, because we were worried about how my dad would handle a large crowd. While wedding planning, Matt’s only requests included a canoe full of beer and a food truck parked in the driveway.  The only “must” on my list was for my dad to walk me down the aisle, and that I would wear red Converse chucks since my dad also rocked a pair when he married my mom 33 years earlier.

We invited 80 guests to the ceremony. Locked arm-in-arm with my dad – with the biggest smile I’ve ever had in my life – I remember hearing my cue: “A Thousand Years” by The Piano Guys. This was it. The big moment.

The chapel doors opened, and I locked eyes with the most handsome groom I’ve ever seen in my life. But then I felt my dad start to tense up.  Even though there was a sea of familiar faces smiling brightly at us, my dad didn’t recognize a single face.

“Dad,” I said with my biggest, reassuring smile, “do you see Matt down there?” I pointed down the aisle. “Today’s my wedding day; you just need to walk me down this aisle, and give me away to Matt. We’ve got this.”

Ever so slowly he began to shuffle down the aisle on our way to my groom. At this point, everyone was crying and smiling. The song may have repeated, but I can’t be sure.

When we got to the front of the church, I gave my dad a huge hug; we had made it!  With lots of happy tears in her eyes, my mom joined us to help my dad to his seat. Slowly, with a wink, I said: “Do you see mom? You’re going to go sit next to her while I marry this kid.” Choking back tears, my dad said, “I love you. I just love you so much!” The day was about as close to perfect as they come.

Alzheimer’s disease has taught me so much about living life to the fullest and cherishing the time I have with my family. Matt is such a special part of our family now, and I know my dad would have chosen no one else to be by our side as we battle this terrible disease. Recently, my dad asked if I was “still hanging out with that astronaut guy.” I replied, “Dad, do you mean Matt? He’s a pilot, but yes, he’s my husband, so he’s stuck with me!”

My dad comes to hang out with Matt and I every Thursday, even sleeping over, to give my mom a much-needed break. The memories I made on that milestone that was our wedding day continue to fuel my fight to find a cure…but our “Thursdate” adventures are pretty darn special too. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

About the Author: As a member of the Minnesota-North Dakota chapter’s young professionals group and Blondes vs. Brunettes and as an Alzheimer’s Congressional Team member, Chloe Misner has been a powerful motivator for her peers in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

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  26 Responses to “A Proud Father with Alzheimer’s Walks His Daughter Down the Aisle”

  1. I know this bunch and I can tell you that alz is in for one hell of a fight. Gene, Chloe and Matt – I love you guys.

  2. What a moving story. Thank you for sharing it, Chloe.

  3. Beautiful, Chloe!

  4. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Chloe!

  5. I would really like to tell my daughter's Alzheimer's stories. Glad they got a chance to share. Not many people want to hear, but desperately need to

  6. My dad had Alz when he was 57. Nowadays after 12 years he doesn't realize that he has two beautiful grandgranddaughters, doesn't recognize me his daughter, my brother or my mom, his wife; Alzheimer took his life but it also took our lives. These long goodbyes are excruciating…
    Wish you Chloe and your family strength to fight against Alz!

  7. What an inspiring story. New memories can still be made!! I believe our fathers are still there and know what's good. I'm glad your dad knows Matt and finds comfort in him the "astronaut"! God bless you. I continue to find comfort in the glimpses of reality in his new world. I'm glad i have my father still I just wish my mom was still alive to help him through this. 73 is way too young for this horrible disease. Keep creating new memories with your loved one never let this disease win. I LOVE your story!

  8. Beautiful story. All people should have a "Thursdate" We have Wed Soirees, most important entry on calendar.

  9. your stories brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful daughter you are. Dad may not always remember, but he will always feel your love.

  10. Beautiful story – thank you for sharing.

  11. I love this story. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Made me cry! My husband was diagnosed 4 years ago at the age of 57. we have 2 daughters and a son. Don't know if he 'll be around to walk them down the aisle or what shape he will be in for my son't high school graduation. It is getting tougher to take him to public events like my son's closing ceremony at his camp yesterday. Every one of these milestones he is missing and we are missing having him with us, even though he is still here. Caring for him is getting too much for me as I still have to support our family. Only one of our kids has graduated college so far. This is such a long and painful journey

    • We are so sorry to learn of this diagnosis. My sister, also, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease at about this same age. She is a spitfire and has done as much as she can to push back on the affects of the disease. She is determined to participate in studies to try to get answers so her children and grandchildren do not have to suffer this awful disease. Unfortunately, we see declines each time we see her (as far as short-term memory). I cannot even imagine the responsibility you have with not only caregiving but also working full time to support your family. May God's grace help you with your journey and give you a sense of peace as you find your way through the darkness.

  13. Such a touching story of love–love story. Your father and your husband must be two very special men.
    And you are one very special daughter and bride!

  14. That is such a wonderful come true story. So happy for all of you!
    God Bless all of you on your future journeys. My younger brother has early
    On set Alzeihmer's so your story really touched me. Thank you
    Kjc

  15. Chloe, I know this disease only too well. Both my parents were ravaged by it. First my Mom & then my Dad a few years later. They were married for 60 years at the end. They did not know each other in the late stages, however after Mom passed, Dad would call her name out. Sadly Dad died six months later.

    The only saving grace is theyare together again!

    • So sorry to hear that both of your parents were impacted … hope youhappy memories of them last forever!

      My mom is still living with ALZ & my dad (her partner for more than 60 yrs), is right by her side … in good times & bad …

  16. Wonderful story!

  17. This is a beautiful story. I have a husband with early on set Alzhemers too. I always wanted to go on a Cruise Shipto the Bahamas but was told by some that I should not consider taking my husband. Other told me that I should make lasting memories. Well I choose to go and I am so glad that we did , for that was the last long trip that my husband could Physically make. We held hands most of the time for SAFETY, other people just thought we were and older couple still dating. The memories of that trip will last a lifetime.

  18. You are a beautiful daughter. I love how you show such love and admiration for your dad and mom. My husband was diagnosed with AD at age 55. We have two adult daughters. We understand what you are going through.

  19. Beautiful Chloe! You are part of God's perfect plan and have risen up to the task, willing and able. Stay happy, take care of your mom while she looks after dad, take care of yourself and Matt. May your life be abundantly blessed with good health, love and joy!

    • That was absolutely beautiful I recently lost my dad to this terrible disease and I cherish every memory we shared together. I pray you hold on to those memories as we all look for cure for this disease.

  20. That's wonderful Chloe. Your story made me happy. May God bless you, your dad and Matt and your family. I myself was diagnosed with early onset ALZ 5 months ago. It was a rude awakening. I was in total turmoil for a few weeks but I got my act together, got my affairs in order and got ready to do battle with it. My husband of forty years, is very supportive. Thank God he will be there for me. I don't know how some one would go through this alone.I have a deep faith and my church family is wonderful. We go to Alz support meetings. I'm happy and fairly stress free.Peace for me comes from the Lord.I know I will be in for trials ahead as the disease progresses. I worry a little about the burden I will be to my husband in the future but you take those vows " in sickness and in health" and I would do it for him so I guess this is our future. We're trying to enjoy life while we can. You take care and enjoy yours too!

  21. My mom is diagnosed with ALZ disease more than 8 years ago … I think the saddest part of this disease is watching her deteriorate as time goes by … enjoy every moment with your dad. Thanks for sharing!

  22. This story is just so beautiful, it made me cry, I also care for my lovely mom who I adore and has been living with me now for 10 yrs. and also suffers with Alzheimer, this is one of the most sadness disease's in our universe I pray that a cure is found for our future generations, thank you for sharing your lovely story. Mindy.

  23. I have read your story numerous times, and it makes me cry every time. Your relationship with your Dad reminds me of my relationship with mine. Although, I have never married, but if I had, this scenario would have been very similar to something we would have shared. God Bless you all, Always!

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