Copyright ©2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Time now for StoryCorps, conversations between Americans across the country. Betsy Brooks came to StoryCorps with her boyfriend, John Grecsek, to talk about her father, Charles. Charles was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when he was 78, and here Betsy tells John about her relationship with her dad before the diagnosis.

Ms. BETSY BROOKS: We butted heads from the moment we could. He was a proud Marine, and I always say that we learned the Marine Corps Hymn before we knew our ABCs. He was a meticulous man. He was meticulous about the house and the yard. And he was a perfectionist. His favorite tool was his level.

I was just cut from a different cloth. My mother, she would make these lists of, you know, all my day's crimes. And she would save them for my father when he came home from work. And he would turn positively livid. So the day I turned 18, I got myself my own apartment.

Mr. JOHN GRECSEK: When did the Alzheimer's start?

Ms. BROOKS: Well, it started to become obvious that he wasn't himself. He was a razor-sharp person, but he started not to be able to do simple things. I remember one time I asked him to make some picture frames for me. He loved to do that sort of stuff.

When I came home after work, you know, my mother called me up and she said, please, do me a favor and don't ask him to make any more. He had such a hard time. You know, he was so confused.

Eventually he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and all of a sudden he turned to me, because he knew that, you know, if he had every single drawer out of the dresser on the floor, I really couldn't care less. So he didn't really hide from me.

We would sit on the back porch and eat pistachio nuts and share a beer. And I could tell him my secrets. And I got to enjoy all the good that was in him.

I love my father tremendously. And believe me when I tell you, despite the head-butting, all I ever wanted to do was please him. The past 12 years since he got sick, I wouldn't trade those 12 years for anything. Except I wish the price to pay for them wasn't so high.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Betsy Brooks remembering her father Charles Brooks with her boyfriend John Grecsek. This interview was recorded shortly after Charles died. It will be archived along with all StoryCorps interviews at the Library of Congress. You can get the podcast at npr.org.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.