Never Goodbye

Navigating the Journey through Dementia

My Dad would have qualified for acceptance into West Point Military Academy except for his eyesight. He didn’t pass the eye exam. The optometrist who examined him suggested he consider a career in optometry. Dad followed up on that suggestion and went into the optometry program at Ohio State University. An Ohio State professor, notorious for thinning out the ranks, assured the class of aspiring optometry students that only 10% of them would get a passing grade. My dad cleverly picked out the smartest student in the class and paired up with him for study. When it came down to the top 10 %, Dad ranked with the best of them. Working out strategies became a successful operating basis.

In fact, strategies have played an important role in most of my dad’s successes. When he belonged to the Rawega Country Club, his friend Harry Partridge egged Dad on to participate in the annual golf tournament. The finalists would have to play three sets of 18 holes in one day. My dad didn’t consider himself the best golfer. However, his competitive drive to win led him to develop a winning strategy. A month before the tournament, he began walking to and from work, totaling close to three and a half miles of daily walking. Some days he walked home for lunch too, making it total seven miles. By the time the tournament arrived, he had built up excellent endurance.

When the tournament began, the top golfer and my dad were neck and neck during the last leg of the playoff, the final 18 holes. By the end of the match my dad’s rival was worn out and gave up at the 16th hole. Dad easily won. Everyone in the clubhouse had bet on my dad’s competitor—all except for Harry Partridge who cashed in bigtime on the bet. Harry told them, “You just don’t know Jack.” He never doubted my dad—he knew Jack would figure out a way to win.