My dad, Nick, was a remarkable man who was truly loved by everyone that knew him. As teenagers, my sisters and I used to complain that we couldn’t get through a single trip to the grocery store without dad bumping into someone he knew who would stop him to chat. Part of this was because he was so involved in our community. He taught art and photography at the Adna Middle/High School in Washington State for 33 years. He photographed nearly every local sports game, developing many of these photos himself to use them for creating and completing the school yearbook. There are parts of our county that you can’t visit without seeing some of my dad’s contribution; whether it’s a hand-painted sign on a baseball field backstop, a deck that he designed and built during the summer, or wedding photos he took that hang in countless family homes.
More than all these outward signs of his life are the things that we can’t see now that he is gone, the memories he’s left us with. He was always the guy who sent a room of people into uncontrolled laughter with an unexpected joke. He was patient and understanding, and always a good listener – a quality that served him well in a home with 3 talkative daughters and an outspoken wife. He worked hard, but always managed to have time and energy for everyone else.
Together, my Dad and I were devoted Seattle Mariners fans, even when they lost – which was often. We were one another’s “outdoor pals”; hiking, fishing, and camping together all through my childhood. We also shared talents for drawing, playing guitar, and holding out hope that an awful cheesy movie might still be sort of good.
Although Dad stayed in excellent physical health, his mind rapidly degraded after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009. Alzheimer’s disease took him from us just before his 62nd birthday only 5 years after his diagnosis. People talk about “good days and bad days” but for Dad it was more of a constant decline until he had forgotten everything. The worst part is that I’m not sure which of the times I saw him was the last time that he recognized me and knew I was his daughter before he forgot me completely. For this reason I believe I will always feel that I did not get to truly say goodbye.
I never want anyone to experience the loss my family has. No one should lose their memory and cognition as my dad did and no child should lose parent the way my sisters and I did. That is why I am committed to stopping this disease and why I started the event “Game Night to Remember”. Our event involves a team of fundraising volunteers who will play tabletop board games with the public for 24 hours – nonstop. We encourage and invite anyone to bring their favorite game or to challenge us from one of the hundreds of games we will have available. We will also have raffles, prizes for game winners, and organized tournament-style play.
My best friend Jon Watts started the “Game-a-Thon” tradition 5 years ago to benefit charity. This year, the event will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and honor my dad, Nick Pearce. I chose board games for two reasons: Mental stimulation from puzzles and games may help to delay memory loss and benefit brain health, and game nights in our family were always a wonderful occasion, full of fond memories with my dad.
Olympic Cards & Comics of Lacey, WA is generously hosting us, and will stay open additional hours to support Game Night to Remember. I hope that you will be able to join us there on October 8th and 9th to support the Alzheimer’s Association and honor a person in your life affected by Alzheimer’s disease!