Young love, difficult decision
Don and Deb’s young love was strong enough to overcome the adversity of an unplanned pregnancy when they were very young and unmarried. They made the brave but gut-wrenching decision to choose the unselfish act of adoption for their beautiful baby daughter. Despite that difficult decision, their young love flourished and they eventually married.
After the birth of their first son in the 70s, they moved from New Brunswick to Alberta when Don was offered a job with Alberta Power. Don had a long career with Alberta Power (Atco Electric), spending many cold and stormy nights away from his own family restoring power to those without.
Don and Deb were all about family. They hosted Sunday dinners, Christmases and New Year’s events for family and friends. Don loved to hunt, fish, cook and feed those he loved most. He was involved in the community and was well known in High Level and Fort Vermillion where he spent his adult life raising a family and doting on Deb.
Their first grandchildren came along, and they spoiled them as much as any grandparent can. It was more family for them to love. It was about this time that Don and Deb together searched for and found their beautiful baby daughter. Today they have a loving relationship with her and her family.
In retirement, Don and Deb were excited to spend more time together and with their family. But life had different plans. Early in his retirement, Don began forgetting. He got confused, lost, angry and upset. Learning his probable diagnosis was early onset Alzheimer’s did not deter Don and Deb. They made changes in his diet, and used alternative treatments for memory to try to keep this horrible disease at bay. They were doing OK. Don was getting by at home with Deb as his primary caregiver and God bless our sister-in-law as she rose to that challenge with passion.
This past December, Don became too aggressive for Deb to care for alone. He was and still is very scared of what he does not understand. During a series of hospital admissions just before and after Christmas, Don was finally diagnosed with Benson syndrome which is a form of dementia. It has a life expectancy of 8 to 12 years.
The road ahead
The road ahead is daunting for Deb. She has been by Don’s side virtually every moment since before Christmas. Don is currently in Peace River Hospital, but prior to this transfer he was in Edmonton hospital, which is an 8-hour+ drive from home base in High Level, Alberta. With help from their closest family and friends Deb has lodged at hotel in Edmonton to be close to Don while he was awaiting his diagnosis. Because Don family and friends are widespread across Canada I know we want to show our support and help him and Deb out as this most difficult time in their life.
One thing so unfortunate is that Don and Deb did not have power of attorney in place, so Deb must consult a lawyer to help her gain guardianship of Don in order to liquidate assets and pay for his 24-7 care he will need once released from hospital to a home. The guardianship and liquidation processes can take up to six months to complete.
Deb is a strong, caring and loving wife. My entire family is so thankful our brother has her to care for him. Our family is spread out across Canada and we want to help however we can. We know how much Don loves Deb and their family, and we know he would do the same if it was any one of us who were in the same predicament.
Deb would never ask for help but I believe she truly needs it to be able to care for our brother. Right now, Don is not doing so well. He seems to be declining quite fast. Any help you can give to Don and Deb during their time of need will be greatly appreciated. Any funds not used by Don and Deb will be donated to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
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