He is my Role Model and True Friend, and soon I will be his.

For as long as I can remember, PawPaw has been the strongest man I have ever met. His military background plus his positive outlook on life makes him one of the most enjoyable people to be around. As a natural leader himself, PawPaw showed me how to become the leader I am today. As captain of my high school football team, I was able to utilize many of the lessons I was taught.

My grandfather was always checking in on me and making sure my life was going well. He would call and ask how my grades were, how sports were going, and how my behavior was at home and at school. If I ever didn’t live up to his high expectations, it made me very disappointed. There was nothing worse than knowing that PawPawwas disappointed in me, but it was his persistence that molded me into the person I am today. He taught me how to be mature, and how to keep a level head.

Two years ago my PawPaw was diagnosed with Dementia and eventuallyAlzheimer’s Disease.  We are very lucky that his diagnosis was early.  He is now getting the medical attention that will help slow the progression of the disease.  Currently PawPaw battles with “Sun Downer’s Syndrome.”  As the days turn to evening, his dementia increases and he becomes confused and paranoid.  My grandmother, Grammie, is still able to care for my PawPaw, but we know that one day she will need additional help.  My grandparents live a few hours from us.  Traveling to visit them has become harder over the years as my sisters, brother and I grow up.  In the past my grandparents could make the long trip easily.  Now it is hard on them to make the trip and my PawPaw gets easily confused when he is not in his home environment.

I wish they lived closer to us and luckily, when I go to college I will only be two hours from my grandparents.  It will allow me the chance to visit on weekends.  I enjoy talking with my PawPaw, listening to stories from his Army career, his days growing up in the Bronx, and the different countries that Grammie and PawPaw have traveled to.  Fishing is my PawPaw’s greatest past times and I want to take him fishing just like he used to take me.

I find that our most important conversations occur by email or letters now.  I think this allows him to ponder my correspondence and then he can reply when he feels energized.

My PawPaw has always been my inspiration and true friend.  Those things will never change.  However as the Alzheimer’s disease progresses and life becomes more challenging for PawPaw, I realize my role will change.  I will become his source of encouragement and his friend that shares the stories of our lives.