My avô (grandpa) died a few weeks ago. I loved him very much, so I’m still quite sad.
The end of his life was hard. He spent five years in a dementia ward. I still can’t bring myself to say his death was a blessing, but I’m glad he’s free of that place.
When he first got there, he walked around confused, running his hand against the wall and staring at all the blank people. With time, he became one of them. He lost the ability to walk, forgot our names, and stopped feeding himself. I cried the first time I watched him read the Toronto Star upside down.
Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. It robs people of dignity, history and identity – three things that were vitally important to avô.
I prefer to remember him as he was most of his life: proud, handsome and sharp as the tools in his garage. He was a farmer, winemaker, Maple Leafs fan, devout catholic, carpenter, volunteer and family man. You can read more about him, if you’d like.
For over ten years, avô was our neighbour. He helped my grandma care for us after school. In my gangly years, he drove me to basketball and picked me up after piano. He was at my recitals, tournaments and graduations. In many ways, he was another parent.
I was going to write a post about all of the happy things that have happened lately. There have been many! But somehow, that just didn’t feel right. My grandpa lived life well. I needed to acknowledge that – and him – first.
If you have potent red wine or beer on hand, fill a tumbler to the brim and toast Dinis Rebelo. He was a good man.