19 Mar Ann Topp’s Story
Ann has been a wonderful help with Memory Ball 2013. In addition to bringing 20+ people to the event, Ann has successfully helped secure many of the amazing prizes you will see in our silent auction and raffle on Saturday night. We sincerely thank Ann for all her help so far, and look forward to partnering again with her next year. Thanks also to all those who are attending in memory of Ann’s father, we hope this event will be a wonderful way to remember him. – Lauren Hopkinson, Memory Ball Sponsorship and Silent Auction Director. Follow Lauren on Twitter @ElleHopp.
Ann is currently a Managing Partner at Earls King Street. She grew up in Sudbury and went to school in North Bay before moving to Winnipeg to pursue a journalism career. After working in Journalism, she decided that journalism wasn’t for her and transitioned to the restaurant business.
Ann’s family has a long history of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease on her father’s side of the family. Her father was diagnosed in 2010 with early on-set at the age of 66.
As can be expected, the diagnosis was devastating to Ann’s family, here are her thoughts on the disease and the diagnosis, as well as her message to people currently taking care of a loved on with Alzheimer’s:
My brother was the first t notice as he lived close to my Dad and saw him the most. Dad had the classic signs of Alzheimer’s – memory loss, difficulty around the house and dressing himself, confusion, problems speaking and writing as well as changes in his personality.Just watching the way it affected Dad was hard and then having to close his law practise and watch his world come crashing down was unbearable. He was also very familiar with what was to happen as he lost his father to Alzheimer’s. It is a death sentence.
Dealing with Dad’s diagnosis was awful and I don’t think you can say that any of us ever properly dealt with it. We lost our mom about 7 years prior to Dad’s diagnosis and we were working really hard as a family to come together after that tragedy. Just when we thought we were making progress then Dad was diagnosed and our family exploded. There were many events leading up to the diagnosis where we were all making excuses for dad’s behavior and trying to hide it to protect his integrity. All of a sudden, he was diagnosed and there were no more excuses. A few years ago, we watched our mom die before our eyes hooked up to machines and now we were going to watch our dad die. No machines, no cure, not a chance. I would be lying if I told you that I did everything to put dad first upon diagnosis but the reality is the selfish part of me was only thinking about losing my only surviving parent and how I would have to sit there and do nothing as there wasn’t a cure. After spending some time with Dad after his diagnosis, I came to realize that he was not dead yet and that all he needed was some help and our unwavering love and support. This also comes with a price tag as you have to put all of your selfish wishes aside and do what is best for our dad in his current state. Sometimes this meant talking to him for hours about what kind of cookies were people’s favorites and the best sellers of the day. This is because dad wanted to remember what I did for a living a talk to me so badly about it – his memory told him I sold cookies. For the longest time, I would correct him and then I realized I was correcting him selfishly. After I realized that we had some of the best conversations about cookies and I would do anything to be able to talk to him about cookies again. It’s funny what you learn to cherish.
Dad taught me plenty of things over the years. Years ago, I would have told you that I strongly believe that my work ethic and desire to succeed were instilled in me from my dad. This hadn’t changed today however during Dad’s time with Alzheimer’s he taught me patience, kindness and what support really is. He taught me to appreciate every day, every conversation and what the strong bonds of family were really about.
I would want them [people who are taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s] to know that they are heroes. No one ever said this was going to be easy but be brave and be strong.
Ann is delighted by the support her friends have shown through purchasing tickets to Alzheimer’s and is looking forward to a great evening to remeber her father.