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.
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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.
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