Traverse City Record-Eagle

Generation Why

March 5, 2012

Diseased, their diseases, their families

Year in and year out, families get shaken up and their lives changed drastically by the agonizing diagnoses of the ones they love.

Just recently, I found out that a very loved member of my family was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, a disease that occurs in the brain and causes memory loss.

My grandpa, the man I look up to and have been close to my whole life, is continuing to fight to this day. It truly amazes me how strong human beings can be when unexpected news hits. Even greater than that, I am amazed by how their families can come together and be strong for and with each other in times of need.

My grandpa began to show signs of Alzheimer's at the beginning of 2011 and was officially diagnosed this past July. Since then, he has become more distant and a little more nervous around others. He has often been caught doing things like getting in the hot tub with a jacket on or waking up in the middle of the night and not knowing where he is.

But as a family, we have realized that things have changed and we just have to bear with things and continue to help him. Since he was diagnosed, my grandma has stopped her day-care business, my uncle has taken on more responsibility at our family farm and the grandkids — as well as my grandparents' kids — have come closer together and tried to be around our loving grandfather as much as possible.

Knowing that the ones you love aren't 100 percent themselves is a strang feeling ... it really drives you to make sure you have all the moments you can with the ones you love. It's the feeling of fear, awkwardness and an undying prayer that will make everything be OK. The fear you feel is not knowing if the one you love will forget who you are or the things that they loved so much. The awkwardness for a younger person is that you don't know how to act in these situations. Birthday parties, Christmas parties or even something as simple as a get-together at Easter are strange. You can see and tell that the member of your family is uncomfortable and obviously acting a lot different than they used to. You don't know whether or not to try and be around them a lot more during these get-togethers or whether you should back away from them to make them less nervous.

These are the constant things that the families of the diagnosed deal with on a day-to-day basis that truly show how close a family can be and how humans can adapt to almost every situation if loved ones are involved.

Dylan Seeley is a senior at Kingsley High School.

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