When you’re young… You take it all for granted. Simply because you really don’t know any better. You don’t realize how amazing your parent or guardian is for literally doing everything for you. You don’t realize that your days of playing outside will be far and few between when you’re older. You don’t realize that when you’re older, you only wish making your bed and loading the dishwasher was your only responsibility. And, the point to all this, you take for granted the people in your life.
I wish I could go back to my 12-year-old self and have someone snap me out of the bubble I was in. When you’re that young, there isn’t much you give a lot of thought to. You don’t take the time to appreciate the people around you, the life they led, their values that are shaping you into the person you’re becoming. Because, well, you’re a kid. You want to know how much TV time you’ll get if you do your homework or if you eat all your vegetables what dessert you’ll get. Rough life, I know.
As an adult, looking back, I would’ve asked more questions, listened better and spent as much time as I could’ve with my grandparents… In particular my Pop Rehberg. He is the whole reason behind this post. When I was young, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A truly nasty, cruel disease that destroy’s all your memory and other important mental functions. Over time… He forgot all of us. He didn’t know my name, his wife’s name, his 4 children’s names, his 6 grandchildren’s names, didn’t recognize his home and he talked to our dog, Harley, like he was human. He became a prisoner in his own body. Dwight “Pete” Rehberg was a brilliant man. A graduate of MIT, retired in 1969 from the US Air Force after 23 years of service, serving during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and obtained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was a brother, a devout husband, father and grandfather. And I hardly knew him at all. Simply because I was too young to think of anything but myself. Too young to realize he was getting sick. Too young to understand what was happening. Too young to want to know about the amazing life he led. Don’t get me wrong, I have some memories of him… Playing in the pool, watching him build his model air planes, working in the lawn…. They’re vague, but they’re there. Unfortunately, the main memories I have are that of when he go sick. Talking to the dog – full on conversations. My dad and Uncle Richard fighting him to take a shower because he was too large for my grandma to handle. He ate everything…. we’d laugh that he would eat the flowers off the plate if he could. Honestly, if we didn’t laugh about it – we would cry.
I know now to pay attention to those around me. To ask questions. To learn all I can. To love with my whole heart…. because, well, tomorrow is not guaranteed. I am extremely fortunate to have had grandparents in my life at all… I know MANY people do not get to experience this bond. In one week, my family and I will walk. We have formed the team ‘For the Love of Pete’ (that is meant to make you laugh) and will stand together to raise awareness and donate towards care, support and research. I encourage you all to donate if you’re able. Alzheimer’s is cruel. It’s horrible. It’s just downright nasty. You more than likely know someone who’s been affected by this nightmare. One day, I’m hopeful there will be a cure…. I hope you all will, too.
If you want to donate to our team and fight Alzheimer’s click HERE
And you know I won’t ever do a post without a few photos…
This was on a family cruise we took… The last trip our Pop was with it. He did get a bit lost on the ship…
And this is a photo of my Nanny visiting Pop in the nursing home… I have to believe in his heart he knew how much he was loved….