Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taking Action - Memory Walk


5.3 Million People Have Alzheimer's in the U.S.

7th Leading Cause of Death of People of All Ages, 5th Leading Cause of Death After Age 65

172 Billion Dollars in Annual Costs

10.9 Million Unpaid Caregivers

"With a rapidly aging baby boomer population, Alzheimer's will continue to impact more lives. From 2000-2006, Alzheimer's disease deaths increased 46.1 percent, while other selected causes of death decreased. Strategic investments in other diseases have resulted in declines in deaths, and we need to see the same type of investment for Alzheimer's."

"Unless something is done, by 2050, up to 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s, and a new case will be diagnosed every 33 seconds."

More Facts and Figures Can Be Found At:

Our family has started a team for the Memory Walk 2010 this November 6th in Huntington Beach. We would love to invite any and all who would like to walk with us and/or donate. I've never fund-raised before and I've set our bar high, but we're passionate about donating to the cause. I started with a $25 donation because that's really all I can give at the moment and I would like to encourage other donations no matter what the amount.

If you would like more information or would like to join our team you can copy and paste this link below or click on the link under "Helpful Links" at the top right of the blog.

November 6th is only about two months away! More information to come soon!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Dad isn't doing well this week. He is saying things that he hasn't said in months like, "I'm locked up. I can't go nowhere. I just want to get out and see my family." But, something was different this time. This time he is a lot more angry. I had to go over to Whittier yesterday to make him feel better, but today Megan got the brunt of it.

We had his check up with the Dermatologist and the rash is getting better... slowly. The minute Megan brought Dad back to Whittier Place he was adamant about not going back. Somehow she got him back in and had him take an anti-anxiety pill. While waiting for it to kick in, Dad was ranting and raving about being locked up and how he can't take another day of this. He was angrily pacing up and down the hallways and everyone was staring at him.

Megan called me to have me talk to him but he basically yelled at me on the phone about how we locked him up and then wouldn't talk to me. I could hear him in the background complaining non-stop. A couple minutes after hanging up with them I got a text from Megan, "Dad is crying."

Then he got angry again and Megan told him that he seemed very angry and he should try to calm down. "Of course I'm angry. This place is shit! S.H.I.T. That's how you spell it." I laughed out loud when she told me this and she said there were moments when she wanted to laugh too but didn't want to upset him more. Apparently he kept saying, "I haven't killed anybody. I didn't kill anyone. Why am I in here?"

After trying to talk to him for half and hour, she finally gave up because he was so mad. Dad wouldn't say goodbye to her and he said meanly, "Just forget about you. I'll be fine." She asked him to say by to her and like a little kid yelled, "No."

Megan left crying.

I know Dad's Mom had a lot of angry episodes in her Alzheimer's days and so far Dad has mostly sweet, confused, or sad episodes. I hope this isn't a sign of what's to come in the future. But it probably is. The worst part is that we can handle most of the other mood swings, but I think when Dad gets angry it upsets us and brings us back to our childhood memories of 'mean' Dad. We don't think of him as that person anymore but it doesn't mean that we don't remember how scared we used to be when he yelled. It almost always made us cry.

He's absolutely harmless now and we know that. We'll just have to toughen up as things get worse. Just another awful part of this disease.

Clues to Dad's Mystery Past...

Most of what we know about my Dad's past was told to us by our Mom. He never liked to talk about his early childhood since that was a little rocky, we never heard stories about what my Dad did for the first 40 years of his life before meeting our Mom, and we never knew anything about his Dad's side of the family. Obviously, we do know that Dad was married twice before my Mom and had two children from his first marriage -Kelly and David. We know some facts, but would like to know the stories.

Blake's Uncle John, who's hobby is tracing family trees, was able to find a little bit
of information recently about the Brandt family but that was all we had. Until now.

Last week we went to clean out Dad's mobile home in Fallbrook in 100 degree weather... great timing. We found some interesting photos and information about Dad and his
family. The baby picture to the right is of Dad, and we found his 10th Grade yearbook where his friends called him "a swell guy", and we now have his High School Letter from John Muir High School in Pasadena. I think it was from playing football and baseball.

Mom always told us that Dad was in a bowling league but this picture of him bowling at age 23 (Megan's current age) is just amazing!!! Megan just stared at the picture and tried to imagine him at her age. And it's just amazing to see my Dad as a young person in his twenties. We don't have many or any pictures of him at this age. He's so cute.

We also found pictures of Dad's Grandfather who we know almost nothing about. One was taken some time in the late 20s or early 30s in Pasadena and the other was found with his "Chauffeur"
certification when he lived in Chicago in 1914 and worked as a taxi driver. Once he moved to Pasadena he became a gardener for a private family (from what Blake's Uncle told us) and/or a botanist teacher (which is what it says on the back of the photo). Must have been where Dad got his green thumb. Dad doesn't remember him since he was only 1 year old when his Grandfather died.

The last photo we found was a picture from the 30s of Dad's Dad in the infantry when he was around 18-20 years old. He
died at age 61 in 1976.

I'm sure this is pretty boring to everyone else, but to me and Megan it's like finding lost treasure. It's also sad. How else are we supposed to learn about Dad's past and family?... it's not like he can tell us! The only person that has known my Dad since high school and is still in his life today is his friend Mike O'Rourke. We're gonna have to pick his brain some day t0 learn more about Dad's early years. Dad's stepmother, Olive Brandt, and her whole side of the family is still living in Upland and surrounding areas... I need to get a hold of them.

What we do know about Dad as a person is that he was an awesome cook, an awesome gardener, an awesome fisherman, and he collected SO MANY COINS. We don't know what to do with all of them. He doesn't seem like the coin collecting type, but someone got him into that. We'll never
know the story behind that. We also have hundreds and hundreds of photos of him fishing and holding up his catch. But, who taught him to fish? Who taught him to garden? His Dad, maybe, now that we know it runs in the family. Or maybe those were just things that every kid knew how to do back then. These are the stories that I wish I knew. Unfortunately all that information is lost inside him. To this day, I kick myself for not getting the recipe to his Teriyaki sauce. How would I know that at 17 years old I should have been asking him to write down recipes or tell us stories about what made him the person he is now?

Had to add this fishing picture! AMAZING!