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!).
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.