New York Mets baseball legend Bud Harrelson went public with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2018. This Father’s Day, Bud’s children and the entire Harrelson family honor his bravery in facing Alzheimer’s.
This Father’s Day is different from the ones before it. With it comes some sadness but also a feeling of gratitude. Watching our dad slowly disappear in front of our eyes has given us great perspective.
This Father’s Day, we celebrate the man who has given us, and so many others, so much through his unconditional love and support. This man, who would bring my sister a Beanie Baby every time she was upset, never missing a beat, just to let her know he was thinking of her and that he was there. The one who patiently taught us how to play golf and baseball and how to drive a stick shift. The man who always let us know that he was proud of us and loved us endlessly, no matter the decisions we made. Who taught us how to be good people, friends and parents. That man, the one we’ve known and loved for all of our lives, is getting lost inside of him.
He still has his sense of humor and his heart, but gone are the days of us playing baseball or a round of golf. Now, every day is a struggle. A struggle for him because he is aware that he is disappearing and a struggle for us because we are watching this happen to the man we love so much.
But through all of this struggle, even as every day gets harder, he is still teaching us. He is teaching us to live in the moment. To love him and each other with everything we have, because each day is a gift.
He is teaching us to be thankful for and cherish the moments we still have with him and each other. He is teaching us that laughter really is the best medicine. He is continuing to teach and inspire us through his desire to continue to help other people and families living with this disease.
Though he is changing before us, through this disease he is still teaching us how nothing is more important than the ability to love, showing compassion always and connecting with others no matter how difficult it may be or how different their stories are from ours, because the outcome can be magical.
If you ask him today how he feels about his diagnosis, he says that he just wants to help people like him and let them know they’re not alone. We will continue to do that with him. We will fight this fight with him every day, so that he always knows he’s not alone.
Thanks for all of the beautiful memories, Dad. We’ll remember them for you. We will cherish all of the new memories we’re creating now, while we show you the same unconditional love you’ve always shown us.
We love you. Happy Father’s Day.