Liv­ing mem­ory

Dad didn’t know my kids but they’ll never for­get him

Chat - - CONTENTS - Rae Gre­gory, 47, Hert­ford

Ped­alling into the fi­nal stretch of our cycle ride, I ex­pected to feel ex­hausted.

But as I turned to my son Alex, then 10, all I felt was pride.

It was May this year when we com­pleted the 90km ride for Alzheimer’s Re­search UK.

The whole thing had been Alex’s idea.

A way to re­mem­ber his grandad.

My dad Noel was di­ag­nosed with early-on­set Alzheimer’s be­fore Alex was even born.

Alzheimer’s dis­ease is the most com­mon cause of de­men­tia.

My mum Jen­nifer be­came his carer right up un­til 2011 when she was di­ag­nosed with cancer.

Now that she and Dad were both ill, it was a re­ally dif­fi­cult time. So Dad moved into a care home.

We vis­ited him as of­ten as we could.

Me and my hus­band Paul, then 40, wanted Alex and his twin sis­ter Teah to know both their grand­par­ents.

Sadly, Mum passed away in Jan­uary 2012, aged 67.

But, of course, we still vis­ited Dad in the home.

Alex loved push­ing his grandad in his wheel­chair.

‘Hi, grandad!’ Alex would beam, bound­ing into the com­mu­nal lounge.

Dad couldn’t hold a con­ver­sa­tion, but that didn’t faze Alex.

He’d chat away for hours, tak­ing his grandad’s hand in his. And although I don’t think Dad knew who Alex was, he’d light up when he saw him.

It was those mo­ments I trea­sured. Es­pe­cially when Dad sadly passed away in Novem­ber 2014, aged 70. That’s when Alex had the idea for the bike ride. We soon dis­cov­ered how un­der­funded Alzheimer’s re­search was. Putting the wheels in mo­tion, lit­er­ally, we set out our route.

And in May this year, we rode from Lon­don to Cam­bridge. It was the most gru­elling 24 hours of my life as we bat­tled through rain and hail­stones. But Alex was a trouper and pushed on. When we reached the fin­ish line I think we all let out a sigh of re­lief that it was over.

Even Alex ad­mit­ted that, at one point, he felt like quit­ting.

‘But I knew I couldn’t give up,’ he ex­plained. ‘I had to do it for Grandad.’

My boy raised over £3,000 for Alzheimer’s Re­search UK. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

He’s al­ready plan­ning to do a coast-to-coast ride in the fu­ture.

And when­ever we speak about his grandad, he’s al­ways full of sto­ries, keep­ing Dad close with mem­o­ries.

I miss both my par­ents dearly and I’m glad that we can raise money in their hon­our.

But what means the most is know­ing that Alex will never for­get his grandad.

Alex would chat away, tak­ing his grandad’s hand in his

My boy visit­ing Grandad Noel

Me, Alex and Paul af­ter the bike ride

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