A daughter looks back on her dad’s life before and after Lewy body dementia.
This article was written by a guest contributor, and the views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author.
Dad was my protector — my world. Through him I was safe. He was there for me, as a young girl having nightmares and he reassured me when I moved to my own apartment and was scared of strange incoming phone calls.
He was a great hands-on father. He built stage backgrounds for my Highland Dance concert, and he and mom attended all my brother’s soccer games, rain or shine.
Dad and mom frequently put on amazing, themed dinner parties with their friends. The most memorable few I recall included having a different dinner course per floor in their split-level house, Cinco de Mayo, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day open-house gatherings.
Because of his upbringing — being passed off from one relative to the next — dad believed in family first and being with his family meant more to him above all else.
He would often splurge on family vacations to places such as Mexico, Hawaii and Parksville, B.C., including my brother and me and our families. I really enjoyed spending time with everyone as we went on snorkeling excursions, dinners out, beachcombing for creatures and sandcastle-making.
One particular New Year’s vacation with mom, dad and my brother’s family was to Universal Studios and Disneyland in California. The weather in Los Angeles was cold and cloudy but that didn’t stop the visiting family from enjoying themselves — shorts and all. I was a California resident, so I donned a winter coat.
Mom and dad loved to travel to different cities in the United States and Europe for a romantic vacation alone or to meet up with high school or university friends.
Doreen [left] and Art [right]. Photo courtesy of A. Jordan.
Dad excelled at racquetball with friends and travelled for curling bonspiels (tournaments). During a trip to Granisle, B.C., I remember camping on his university friend’s front lawn and attending a bonspiel, but being a teenager, I was super bored. I think his team did very well.
His grounding demeanor could be felt with all his friends and business associates. If there was a tragedy in one of his friends’ lives, he would always say, “We’ll stick together.”
Moreover, he believed in making an impact on the local community. Therefore, he frequently volunteered for local government parties’ election preparations.
When dad died of Lewy body dementia, my heart broke. To keep his memory close to my heart, I was inspired by slideshows on the internet and wanted to create my own. With my brother’s help on the technical aspects, this video was born:
"He could still be the loveable, fun-loving and comforting dad I’d always known."
– Allison Jordan
Lewy body dementia robbed my dad of his analytical thinking. For example, he hallucinated, and mom said she would have to open the outside door at night so he could see no one was there.
Dad’s dementia sometimes caused him to not recognize her. I remember one story my mom told me about how she and dad were walking to the coffee store to treat themselves to a latte, and he asked if they could get a latte for his wife. She responded that she was his wife and they laughed and laughed.
Art [left] and daughter Allison [right]. Photo courtesy of A. Jordan.
He would also wake up mom during the night to ask if any of the grandkids needed attended to, which of course was a no, as we had already caught the plane to go back home.
Lewy body greatly limited my dad’s mobility. He could only shuffle from the bedroom to the couch to the table. Sometimes he would get irritable and become angry.
But despite the horrible disease he suffered from, he could still be the loveable, fun-loving and comforting dad I’d always known.
My family and my brother’s family were all together in January 2018 — just after New Year’s Eve and right before dad died. We all went out for dinner at Seasons in the Park at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver. Dad bragged that it was the happiest and best party he’d ever had!
Keeping memories alive
Dad was someone I would always look to for advice. He had a worldly view on life and could put my fears into perspective with an action plan. And when my daughter was a toddler, there was no one like grandpa to comfort her. She sat beside him like glue, and he was her best buddy.
I believe that all life and creatures belong and are created equal. I want to suggest to the world the idea that connectivity could spiritually bridge me with my dad.
I want to help others who are suffering from Lewy body dementia by raising awareness and fundraising. And I want to keep the memory of my dad alive.