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