Goodbye, Bill

In the quiet of the other night, at 11:00 PM local time, my step-father died. The event went remarkably fast in that he developed an infection and fever one day and died the next. The process, however, has been going on for years because Bill had Alzheimer’s disease.

For reasons that I agree with, neither his daughters nor my mother wanted to have a remembrance service. After all, Bill has been gone in all of the quality of life criteria for a long time.

I will let him go in the night because he deserved much more from this earth.

But, I will not let him go quietly.

Bill came into my mother’s life after my father passed away and she had been with him for almost twenty years now. Only oldest children who are only sons who read this will completely understand the relief of this man being gentle and kind to their mother.

And that was the hallmark of Bill: he did good deeds all the time with grace, dignity and a great sense of humor.

We should celebrate people who do good deeds with no ulterior motives — it has become a rarity to find such people in this competitive, fast-paced world.

He maintained this approach in spite of the fact that the company he worked for in Michigan went bankrupt — and took his pension at 30-years right along with it. He was left to support himself on his other savings which, like most of us, would not be much.

So he moved to a lower cost state to be closer to his daughters. He didn’t complain, didn’t despair, and didn’t hold a grudge against circumstances that he had no control over in his life.

He just kept on doing good deeds with grace and humility. People won’t remember that because, as Alzheimer’s takes the ability of the person to remember who they are, it also takes so much time to progress that people no longer remember what good deeds the person did as a vibrant human being.

But I remember.

I would ask that each of you do an unselfish good deed for someone this week. And, when you are doing it, remember Bill. A thousand good deeds done in his memory will ensure that Alzheimer’s won’t make us forget the man he was.

  • Hi Scot,

    I’ve been away from your blog for awhile, and when reading it tonight, saw the “Most active discussions” and thought this one looked interesting. I had no idea what it was until I started reading. Then, I looked at the date — nearly a year old. It just goes to show that these important things remain important. I, too, am sorry for your loss. You’ve done all of us a good thing in your writing about Bill, his goodness, and your family. Many thanks,


    • @Pati – Thanks. I hope that people continue to do well for others. In these times, compared to a year ago, it is needed.

  • Scot, another custom picked up along the way is to plant a tree in memory of the departed. I’m behind a couple myself. Somehow it works out better than it sounds.

    Again our condolences,


  • Scot Herrick says:

    Thanks all for the kind words (and e-mails).

    As we all can tell from the comments, Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease both for the person suffering from it as well as the caregivers (I was not a caregiver for my step-father as I live too far away).

    Because the disease goes on so long, I think the idea of doing a good deed for others is a great way to remember a person who did great things themselves, but no longer could because of the disease.

    Thanks for the comments.

  • Hi Scot,
    I remember when my step-father died a few years ago. He had a sudden and somewhat unexpected death from massive heart failure, but regardless… I, too was always very grateful for the way he took care of my mother, and he too was a gift to the community, always giving of himself.
    I think your act of kindness idea is the most beautiful thought I’ve ever heard of, and I will be proud to participate.

  • I’m sorry for your loss, Scot. Bill was a good man. Two months ago, I lost my mother, a woman with not an ounce of selfishness in her, just three years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was a hard thing for me and my siblings to see, but we’re comforted in the knowledge that she’s not suffering anymore.

    I’ll be thinking of him – and your family – this week and will look to do something good in his memory.

    Hang onto the pleasant memories. May he rest in peace.

  • Condolences Scot, and thank you for sharing your kind remembrances of the specialness of Bill, how he touched the lives around him, and the insight into the terror of having mind taken before body & soul.

    God Bless Bill, may he rest in peace, and Godspeed Scot & Family for so remembering a fine man.


  • I’m sorry to hear about your loss, Scot. It sounds like you are coping in the best possible way, and I’m sure you are an inspiration to your family in doing so.

    Alexandra Levit

  • Scot Herrick says:

    Thanks, Anita.

    One of the really punishing things about Alzheimer’s disease is that by the time it is done, the person is completely different then they were in life and we just don’t remember them. I tried to hang on to remembering the good times.

  • Count me in. Sounds like an amazing person, and your good memories of him will only strengthen, not lessen, over time. I know, because I lost both my parents and a grandfather in 17 months, and every day that they have been gone I feel a stronger connection to them. I will do my good deed with Bill in mind, and keep doing them in memory of all those who have enriched our lives so much.
    Anita Bruzzese

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}