Let me introduce you to John Thomas Harris, known to my mum as H and his friends as Harris, my handsome dad:
Then Alzheimer's struck, my dad was 57, just 57 years old! I remember many times during his illness that I wished someone could save him. As a family, united, we went on a 12 year journey with this terrible disease.
Alzheimer's made the whole family even closer, we were all there to help my mum so that my dad didn't have to go in a home. It also isolated us and we would grieve and shed our tears in private. We also learnt a lot of lessons.
People with Alzheimer's aren't old and they don't just sit in a corner forgetting the small things, they forget everything. They forget how to hold a glass, how to feed themselves, they have to wear a nappy, they forget how to use their arms, they forget how to sit down and when you do get them sitting down they forget how to stand up, their muscles cease up and they forget how to walk.
But then it gets worse, they forget how to chew then they forget how to swallow, you can't get them to eat, they can't eat, they waste away. They don't forget how to cry though and it breaks your heart.
Close friends turn their backs and disappear from your lives, people who had been friends with my dad for over 40 years just stopped coming to see him.
We learnt how strong my mum is, how much fight she has in her, how much she loved my dad.
I still see reminders of my dad all the time and they always make me think of him and smile. I know that he is always with me. I see him in my brothers and in my nephews but I wish he was here to see it too. His many grandchildren would amaze him and he would cherish them all.
On the 22nd of September me, my brothers and my sisters are doing a 10K Memory Walk to raise money for Alzheimer's. We want to raise money so that, in the future, if someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's they are offered a cure, a chance to live their life out in full, so that they can be offered hope.
I would walk this 10K bare foot over hot coals if it meant that my dad would be at the finish line and I could see him healthy and well but I know that won't happen so I'll wear my shoes and socks and do it in the hope a cure can be found.
Now I know dad told me not to beg but, just this once, please, if you can, visit my Just Giving page and make a donation. It doesn't matter how big or small, whatever is raised will help another family that is suffering because of this terrible disease.
Today would have been my dad's birthday, it's the fifth one he's not been with us but he is not for one second forgotten. If you feel like giving a posthumous birthday present then maybe you would be kind enough to share this blog post with your lovely followers.
Happy birthday dad, love and miss you always.