Alzheimer's took our amazingly strong, intelligent, kind father way too soon. It was nine years from the time of diagnosis to PHYSICALLY losing him. We lost pieces of him all along the way. My children never got to know the man I grew up with, but instead found themselves in a reversal of roles, looking out for him. As the disease progressed, it was almost a blessing when he got to the point where he no longer recognized his decline. Up to that point, that was the worst - knowing he knew. he never wanted us to deal with what was to come. HE took care of US, and that's how he wanted it to stay, even though he knew that was far from what we were all facing. It gets to the point where you do your best to live with this new reality, and even to laugh when you can- otherwise, you will go crazy with heartbreak. it's been 3 years now without our dad, and I still think of him every day. Sometimes those thoughts bring tears to my eyes, but more often they bring a smile to my face. Helping to care for him throughout his illness was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but it was also a privilege and a blessing to be able to do so.