By CJ Pearce
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, or 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 still see after he is gone. He was always the guy to break up a room in uncontrolled laughter with a quick, clever, unexpected joke. He was always patient and understanding and a good listener, a quality that served him well as he was the only male in a home with three talkative daughters and our outspoken mom. He worked hard, but always managed to have time and energy for everyone else except himself left over. He was also extremely physically active. Dad rode the Seattle to Portland bicycle race for several years and rode his bike practically every weekend, sometimes 20+ mile stretches before we were even finishing breakfast. 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. Alzheimer’s disease took him from us just before his 62nd birthday in 2014, only five years after receiving 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 else to go through the loss of their mind as my dad did, or the loss of a parent that way that 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 (or “board”) games with the public for 24 hours nonstop. Last year, we raised over $4,300! 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 door prizes, play-to-win games, and trivia.
I chose to create a board game event for two reasons: 1. Mental stimulation from puzzles and games may help to delay memory loss and benefit brain health, and 2. 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 7th and 8th!