Saturday, November 6, 2010

Love you Dad


Hi There. It's been awhile since I suddenly disappeared and I thought I better stop in and explain myself. Most of my regular blog readers know that my 59-yr-old father had been rapidly progressing through the stages of Early-Onset Alzheimer's for the past few years and that the past several months especially had seen a very sharp decline in his condition. We decided to bring him home a little over a week ago (he had been living in a Private Care Home for several months) and he passed away with my Mom and I at his side on Tuesday afternoon, Nov 2. (almost a week after we returned from vacation). I'm not gonna lie, the last few days were extremely difficult - but I am so thankful we decided to bring him home. I honestly feel like somewhere deep inside he was somehow waiting to go home before he let go. It's been so hard seeing him in the state he's been in for the past year, knowing he would never want to live like that. So for the most part, his passing has been a relief for us - to know that he is now at peace and no longer suffering. It's been such a long, hard road for all of us. Of course I am very sad too - mostly for selfish reasons - I always was the quintessential "Daddy's Girl" (and spoiled rotten as a result, LOL) - and his passing has left me feeling sort of lost and almost panicky. Even though I really feel like I lost the man who raised me more than a year ago, I still had a way to express my love for my father by helping with his care or even just giving him a big hug. I feel a little out of sorts now without that outlet for my affection. And I'm bummed that Dean isn't going to know his amazing Grandfather. But I really am doing OK. I'm a little concerned about my Mom, although she seems to be holding up pretty well. My parents were married for more than 38 years and they started dating as teenagers (my Mom was 15, my Dad was 16) so my Mom has spent 44 of her 58 years of life with him. And even though the last few years were really REALLY difficult, and my Dad wasn't really there - so much of my Mom's daily life still revolved around my Dad - caring for him, making sure his needs were met, etc. So now that he's gone there's going to be a pretty big void to fill. It's just going to be a big adjustment for her. So far though, she seems to be doing really well and is just relieved that he is no longer trapped in a terrible existence that he would never want to live. She seems to be taking a lot of comfort in knowing that he wouldn't have wanted her life to be the way it's been the last few years and now she's free to live the dream he worked so hard to build for them.

So anyway, I hope you guys can bear with me for this post while I share several photos of my Dad, along with his obituary, as a sort of tribute to the amazing man and father he was. If you've stuck with me this far, thank you for humoring me! And please understand, this post is as much for me as it is for any of you. I promise I'll get back to stamping soon!

As you'll see in many of the photos below, my Dad was an adventurous guy. My childhood was all about the EXPERIENCE. I grew up fortunate enough that my family could provide us with nice things, but my Dad wanted our childhood to be more about DOING - and it was all about being outside and experiencing nature. So many camping trips, hiking, the lake, and of course Maui. He taught my brother and I so much about the beauty of this world and to appreciate the things that are really important in life. He was also just a really good guy with a great big heart.

My Mom and Dad at my Dad's Senior Prom in 1969:

My Parents on their wedding Day - June 16, 1972:

My Dad and me as a newborn, 1976:

My parents in Hawaii, 1983:

Hiking in the Wichita Mountains, mid-80s:

Family trip to Maui, early 90s:

Skiing in Crested Butte, Colorado, early 90s:
Rafting the Taos Box of the Rio Grande, New Mexico, Mid-90s:

Kayaking some river in Arkansas, mid-90s:

Setting up camp, Backwoods of Colorado, mid to late 90s:

Makena, Maui, 2002:

Hiking West Maui, 2004:
My Wedding Day, December 9, 2005:

Proudest Grandpa on Earth, my Dad and Dean, December 7, 2006:

Teaching Dean about hiking, 2007:
(and yes, my Dad is wearing the SAME cargo shorts in almost all of those photos - all 20 years worth!! LOL. Gotta love that about him. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just be glad we finally got rid of those OP Corduroy shorts - that took some serious work!! So the Cabela's cargo shorts he wore for 20 years are actually a huge improvement!).

Obituary:

Dr. Edward R. Harper of Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, formerly of El Reno, Oklahoma, passed away on November 2, 2010 at his home in Kihei after suffering from early onset Alzheimer's Disease for the past few years.

Dr. Harper was born on December 25, 1950, in Oklahoma City to Raymond K. and Adah E. Harper. He graduated from El Reno High School in 1969, and from the University of Houston College of Optometry in 1975. He practiced Optometry in El Reno from 1975 until his early retirement in 2004.

He is survived by his wife, Susan (Hutson) Harper of Kihei, Maui, Hawaii; their daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer (Harper) and Joel Tapler, one grandson, Dean Edward Tapler, all of Kahului, Maui, Hawaii; and one son, Jeremy Alan Harper of Whitefish, Montana. He is also survived by numerous cousins, other relatives and good friends.

A Celebration of Life and scattering of ashes will be held on Maui at a later date. The family suggests memorials be sent to Hospice Maui, 400 Mahalani Street, Wailuku, Hi 96793, to the Alzheimer's Association, Aloha Chapter, 270 Hookahi Street, Suite 311, Wailuku, HI 96793, or to Maui Adult Day Care, 11 Mahaolu Street, Suite B, Kahului, HI 96732.

The family wishes to extend their deepest gratitude to Hospice Maui for all of their wonderful help and support. Also, a special mahalo to the wonderful staff of Maui Adult Day Care.

55 comments:

KanataNewf said...

My most sincere, heartfelt condolences to you and your family Jen. I lost one of my grandmother's to this terrible disease several years ago and understand the pain.

Lynn said...

Jen, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family. Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful pictures of your dad and entire family. I lost my dad almost six years ago and was most certainly daddy's girl too. Thinking of you.

Dani said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine losing my father at such an early age. Unfortunately I watched Alzheimer's take both of my grandparents, it's such a terrible disease. Thank you for sharing with us all what an amazing man your father was. Dean will always know how wonderful his grandpa was because you are there to share memories and tell him all about your grand adventures! Hugs to you and your family, prayers going out to you all.

Chris said...

Thanks for sharing about your Dad - how nice to see the photos and see the joy he had. I'm so glad you were able to bring him home...I know he knew how much you and your Mom loved him. Prayers out to all of you in this difficult time.

lisa808 said...

So very sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.

Amy Sheffer said...

Continuing to pray for you guys, Jen. Big hugs, too! Your post is such a beautiful tribute to your Dad. You were blessed with a wonderful man for a father, and he was blessed with a wonderful daughter. So very sorry for your loss.

Alyssa S said...

Oh Jen! I'm so sorry for your loss - I completely understand being a Daddy's Girl myself. Sending you big hugs!

Lesley from WI said...

I am so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to your father.

{ kelly jo } said...

Oh, Jen. I'm so sorry for all your sadness and pain.

Vicki said...

(((((((((Jen)))))))) You know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I lost my parents in 2000, so I certainly know how you feel. Your tribute to your Dad made me cry!

scrappingnana said...

What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I am so sorry for your loss. Sending hugs and prayers to you and your family.

Leontine said...

Jen, I am sorry for your loss. If I read your story your father really enjoyed the beauty of the world around him.

Hugs,
Leontine

Nancy Thomas said...

My heartfelt condolences to you and your family. It may hit your mother later so keep a watchful and loving eye on her. Your father appears to have been an amazing husband, father and grandfather. God bless.

Jackie Pedro said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Dad, Jen. Love seeing all of the pictures. Your family is in my thoughts right now and I'm so sorry for your loss...

Chris K said...

It is never easy to lose a loved one. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

denise said...

Jen, I don't know if you remember me, but I was in Hawaii two years ago and we met. I have followed your blog since you began it. I am so sorry to hear about your father. I know that this time is difficult for you and your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Your tribute to your dad is so touching. Thank you for sharing.

sillyleann said...

Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading about your dad. It sounds like he was a great father. I will always remember this from him - it is about what you do more than what you have. This is kinda weird but I went to High School with you and knew of your dad. It is funny because I have followed your blog for ages now. I guess I never put it together. I remember reading about your trip home, but it never connected until now. My condolences go out to you and your family. I am praying that your mom finds a way to move forward. I will keep your family in my prayers for the next several weeks.

Karen Motz said...

Jen, so sorry for the loss of your father. This is truly a beautiful post though...so many wonderful memories of your dad. While Dean may not know him, I'm sure he'll know all about your wonderful dad!!! Hugs!!!!

Maureen said...

Oh, Jen, I know it was coming soon, but I am so sorry to hear of your dad's passing. As I read your post, I could understand most of it, having lost mom last Christmas to Alzheimers. She had it for over 10 years and I too, was with her when she passed. And then my 5 siblings and I were the pallbearers at her funeral. Someone told me that people somehow"pick" who they want to be with them when they go so what a blessing you and your mom were to be there, although difficult. From your pictures, it looks like he had a full life in his short time and was able to see his little girl with a lovely family of her own. Please know my thoughts, prayer and love are being sent your way :) hugs...
Maureen

Janice Webb said...

Jen, My sincere condolences to you and your family for your loss. May God watch over you and help you through the difficult time ahead.

My dad passed away this past May from cancer. I too was glad to know Dad's suffering was over and yet devastated that he was gone.

Your dad was a beautiful person inside and out!

Stephanie Kraft said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Jen. Hugs and prayers for you and all of the loved ones. This is such a lovely tribute to him.. I especially love that you have your mom and dad's prom photo.

Nancy Riley said...

Oh God, Jen! I'm in tears reading this news of your Dad's passing. My heart aches for you and your family ... it's just so very sad. I just can't get over how this terrible disease took over your young father's life. I can't even imagine what you must be feeling right now. Please know that I care very much and will lift you and your family in prayer for strength and peace. Love you, girlfriend. ~Nancy

Pattie said...

What a lovely tribute to your father. Even though I don't know you, I know the pain you feel. I lost my grandmother to this disease and I too lost my dad at a young age. He has been gone 23years today...he died from lung cancer at the age of 50 (I was only 19). Be thankful for the time you did have with him and that he was able to see you get married and meet his grandchildren. I will forever regret that those things were missing for me.

Nancy said...

This is certainly a wonderful tribute for your Dad and I hope it has helped you to share pictures of him and your family.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Jen....
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.... I know it is a great loss and I hope you find peace that he is in heaven now watching down on you...
Missi

Linda E said...

My heartfelt sympathies to you and your family. I can relate to you on so many levels. i just lost a beloved aunt to altzheimer's. Unfortunately she suffered for more than 10 years. I also lost my dad to lung cancer 12 years ago. My daughter was only 3 weeks old when he died and he and my mother were married for 48 years. Like your mother, she was a teenager (17) when they met and her whole life was devoted to him -- especially the last year as caregiver. i know you will find comfort in your beautiful memories of your father -- and judging by your pictures, you have so many. Not a day will go by that you don't think of him but your stories will bring him to life for your son. Hugs and prayers.

Linda E said...

My heartfelt sympathies to you and your family. I can relate to you on so many levels. i just lost a beloved aunt to altzheimer's. Unfortunately she suffered for more than 10 years. I also lost my dad to lung cancer 12 years ago. My daughter was only 3 weeks old when he died and he and my mother were married for 48 years. Like your mother, she was a teenager (17) when they met and her whole life was devoted to him -- especially the last year as caregiver. i know you will find comfort in your beautiful memories of your father -- and judging by your pictures, you have so many. Not a day will go by that you don't think of him but your stories will bring him to life for your son. Hugs and prayers.

Jen Carter said...

I am so sorry for your loss Jen! Big hugs to you!

Basement Stamper said...

Jen: I'm so sorry to hear about your father and while my grandparents were not as young, it's still hard to watch. My condolensces to you and your family for your loss.

Michelle (sf9erfan) said...

Oh Jen. You are in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing your lovely photos and memories of your dad. He is smiling down on you and your family. Hugs to you.

Claudia said...

Jen, I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your photos and memories with us.

Julie E said...

Jen, my thoughts are with you and your family. May you find comfort in the wonderful memories and pictures.

d said...

Awwwww, Jean. What a time of mixed emotions. Thanks for sharing the LIFE of your dad and know we're all with you. It's so obvious you had a strong bond and the blessed memories will keep you strong.

d

Lynn said...

Jen I am so sorry for your loss and send continued thoughts and prayers for you and your family. The pictures you've shared here and the words written are a wonderful tribute to your Dad. I know what its like to have lost a father that's loved so much and being the youngest and only girl was a daddys girl as well. All I can say is cherish all the memories you had with him, he lives on because of you.

Sarah-Jane Kale' said...

Jen!!! This is truly BEAUTIFUL and written is true JEN style.. HONEST, and BEAUTIFUL. I'm so very sorry for you and your family but know that you, your mum, your family and now your wonderful dad can all be at peace.

Thinking of you and your family
Love ya.

xx SJ

maggie said...

Jen,
I too lost my dad to that terrible disease. You really do loose them twice...the second time being easier. My prayers are with you and your family. I could tell from the pictures you shared that you and your dad shared a special relationship. You will always have those memories. Take care knowing he is always at your side.

Rebecca said...

I won't pretend to know what you are going through. I won't try and share a similar story to convey empathy. I won't use any over-cooked cliches. All I can say is I'm so so so sorry.

Vera W. Yates (Ling) said...

Jen, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. I lost my dad 8 years ago and I still miss him a lot. I hope your fond memories of him will help ease the pain. Celebrate his life, his legacy. Sending big hugs to you and your mom.

Magirk said...

My thoughts and kind wishes to you at this time. So sorry for your loss. I'm just a 'quiet' blog reader of yours, but it looks like he was a wonderful man, loved by all, who lived a great life. I hope all your happy memories with him will comfort and cheer you always.

Jodi Collins aka Kharmagirl said...

I don't even know what to say Jen, but your Father is so blessed to have had such a wonderful daughter. What a beautiful tribute to him and his life!!
I will be keeping you and your mom in my thoughts and prayers! Big hugs my friend!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear. My husband's grandmother has been living with this disease for about 30 years now. She is 91 and besides having no mind - she is healthy. God works in mysterious ways.

Taylor said...

Jen, thank you for sharing the beautiful memories of your father. It looks like you've captured some perfect moments to share your dad with Dean.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. While a blessing to see his suffering end, I know this must be a really tough time and I'm sorry for your loss. Sending you hugs!

Megan said...

This is such a precious post. These pictures were a lovely glimpse into his life and your words were very moving. I'll be praying for your family. I'm so sorry for your loss.

barbsmith2536 said...

What a loving story you wrote about your Dad. Losing a parent is never easy. Thank you for showing us a small portion of his life through photos.

Barb from Toronto, Canada

Linda Callahan said...

Jen , so sorry to hear about your dad. What a wonderful post you did about him! Thinking of you and your family......

Dana Gustafson said...

Jen...thinking of you today and sending you a great big hug. Thank you for sharing your story and your dad's photos.

MacKenzie said...

Sorry to hear about your dad Jen. I recently went through the same thing with my grandmother. It's rough, but also a comfort to know their suffering is over.
I'm sure you and Dean have lots of fun memories to talk about over the years.
Hugs.

Rae said...

So sorry for the loss of your dearest dad. I had a similar experience with my dad, and it isn't easy to see them change from what you have known all of your life. Life is so fragile, we all must learn to show love to those family and friends we have in our lives. Tell them today how we feel about them, how much we love and appreciate them. Give them their "flowers" while they are still here with us...God bless you and your family.

Anthonette said...

Aloha Jen,
Your post brought me to tears. I'm still crying. My immediate thought was to call you, but it's only 7AM your time. So sorry to hear about your dad's passing. I loved all the pictures of him. One of my favorites is him rafting in Taos; wow, what an adventurous spirit! My thoughts are with your family.

Cindi said...

He will always be Dr. Harper to me. What a great man he was. My family and I send our heartfelt sympathys to you.

Please pass the word on to your mom as well.

Cindi Lees Albrightson, formerly of El Reno too!

Jami said...

Oh Jen - my deepest sympathies. I've expereinced Alzheimers with a loved one and know how devastating it is and also the relief in knowing they are no longer suffering. Thanks so much for sharing the wonderful photos and your thoughts at such a difficult time!

bonnie said...

So very sorry sweetie for your loss...thinking of you and you sweet family at this sad time. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful pictures of your amazing Father....you all look so happy in the photos. Finally he is at peace and no longer suffering that dreadful disease. Sending you BIG {{{HUGS}}} from across the pond. xx

sharon said...

Our condolences to you and your family. It looks like you all had one fabulous family life. I love all the joy I see in these pix. It's good to see you celebrating your connection with your wonderful father.
Sharon L

Web Design Firm said...

I am very sorry for your loss, God will you in this sad time, It is part of life which is always continue regardless what is happening around the world.

JenBalding said...

awww, jen. I am sorry to hear about your dad, but I know it is a blessing "in disguise". thanks for sharing your family pics...I really enjoyed seeing them *hugs*