18 years ago my family’s world changed when my wonderful dad, who was 59 at the time, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills and the ability to carry out the simplest of tasks. In November 2020 our worlds changed again when he passed away leaving us adjusting gradually to the new normal of life without my daddy.
This Father’s Day we, as a business, are celebrating all the memories we’ve made with our dads this last year. We’re wanting to raise awareness of the notion that the biggest gift we can give our children, our parents and our loved ones is our time, and our most treasured possession will always be our memories.
I’ve always centred every product I design around treasuring and celebrating memories, from country walks to ski holidays, gardening together to flower picking.
While the pandemic has been a challenge in so many ways there have been some points of light. It’s meant for lots of us more time as a family, setting aside moments to catch up remotely and lockdown has left many of us actually more connected. The dads that never made it in time to tuck their little ones in have been able to do bathtime, to manage the school run and to play in the park at lunchtime. While it’s been a battle – there will be memories we can all treasure from 2020.
Taking this into account, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my memories of my daddy. For a while Alzheimer’s might have taken his memories but they remain strong for me and our family.
He was the world’s most positive person and the greatest fun to be around, and I treasure every moment I had with him. He was such a super star, right up until the bitter end – in fact he was stomping in his field right up to the week before he died.
I always struggled with school work but my parents were never pushy academically; they just wanted to make sure they supported me in the best way. So when I was diagnosed with dyslexia, he would drive me happily to my extra lessons (which started at 8am!). The journey’s were always fun; singing and listening to Terry Wogan on the Radio. He was incredibly competitive and would turn these drives into a competition – ‘How many minutes will it take to get there?’, ‘Will we beat last week’s time?’ *not that he was speeding of course…
When it came to sports, he was the dad that shouted from the sidelines at every single match, often the only parent. He’d only ever be yelling words of positivity and encouragement. His encouragement on the tennis court was incredible – he took me to Wimbledon to show me everything and we still try to go every year. I remember playing golf with him and he’d say every shot I took was absolutely brilliant – even when I hacked them into the heather. He would be so patient; giving me a hand to get me out with an incredible shot of his own, only for me to hit it straight back into the woods, the long grass – anywhere except down the fairway!
He was so proud of everything that I did, I only wish that he had been more ‘with it’ in the last 20 years. He was an exceptional businessman, he worked as CEO for many years in big insurance organisations in the city of London. I would have loved to have been able to ask him for advice with my business as we’ve grown but I do know that he was proud, he was always proud.
To have been diagnosed with Alzheimers before he even hit 60 was so sad. It meant my parents were not able to enjoy retirement together but he never once complained. Again, he continued to be nothing but positive, he even used to say that he couldn’t wait to be at little Daisy’s wedding.
Alzheimers is a deeply upsetting disease for both the sufferer and their family, the last five years were exceptionally tough for my dear mummy in particular, but she has been so strong and her stoicness meant that he was able to stay at home until the very end – in the house that he had always loved.
He is so greatly missed, but I hope now that he can rest in peace wherever he is – that he has his memories of us all back and no doubt he has a golf club in hand and a cheeky smile on his face. Miss you daddy, you were a rock and an inspiration.