Gaining Maddie Jean While Losing Gene The Bean

Chloe is a Blooma mama who always enters our doors with a rich, soulful smile. Her baby girl wows the studio with her epic head of hair. Thanks for sharing such a personal story with us. Dealing with the loss of a parent while becoming a parent is an intense transition. September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. We turn our hearts to honor Chloe and her dad as this disease affects so many of our loved ones.

I’ll never forget the moment I found out my dad had passed away. I was nursing my sweet two-month-old when I got the text. It was a group text too, to me and my sister from my mom, which I know sounds horrible, but she was in shock, and we knew it was coming. My gentle rocking came to an abrupt stop; Maddie and I had just visited him two hours before. How could he be gone?

My dad was one of the very first people I told that I was pregnant. I knew he could keep a secret, not because he had Alzheimer’s Disease, but because he was my best buddy. During the final years of his battle with Alzheimer’s, I got to spend nearly every Thursday with him. This was a chance for my mom, his full-time caregiver, to take a break and a special day for me & my pops to do our thing. I called these our Thursdates. Each Thursdate, as my belly grew, I would tell him that I was pregnant. And each time he was just as excited as if it was the first time he had learned the news! I’ll never know if that was because he had forgotten, or if it was simply my Dad’s kindness shining through. He was convinced that the baby was a boy and suggested that I name him Ice Cream. A few months later we learned that little Ice Cream was a girl.

Late in my pregnancy, my mom faced the tough reality that she could no longer provide the care that her soulmate deserved. After researching many options, we found a home for him. At age 66, he was the youngest (and still the most handsome) resident at the home. To no one’s fault, my dad quickly declined in the new environment. Even today, I keep reminding my mom that he was holding on for her, for us.  Honestly, now that Maddie was here, and he was away from my mom’s dedicated care, he was ready to let go. 

After my dad’s passing, we decided to have a celebration of life in July, which would give us two months to prepare. Let me tell you, helping to plan a celebration is tough when getting the hang of being a new mama! I did what I could. I researched urns and ordered one from Etsy while Maddie napped. I coordinated music for the service in between feedings. I nursed while we met with the pastor to plan the ceremony. I purchased tree saplings for people to take and plant in his honor, all done via Facebook Messenger. It’s quite amazing what a determined mama/loving daughter can accomplish! 

Alzheimer’s disease has taught me so much about living life to the fullest and cherishing the time I have with my family. In some ways, it even helped me prepare for motherhood. Alzheimer’s taught me patience and respect for someone who cannot verbalize their needs. Maddie is such a special part of our family now, and I know my dad would have chosen no one else to be by my side and in my arms as we continue to battle this terrible disease. In fact, “baby” was the last word my dad said to me. 

Alzheimer’s had robbed my dad of his ability to speak in the end, but he still tried, and he still smiled. He was still in there until his very last breath, and now I see so much of him in Maddie already, and she’s just six months. My dad’s name was Gene. We named our daughter Madelyn Jean in his honor. She’s patient with me and even-tempered just as he was (especially during my teenage years!).  Maddie loves nature. She studies the maple leaves as they dance in the wind; Boppa Gene was a forester.  Her eyes have this twinkly kindness to them just like his did. And her hair. Both she and my dad were blessed with a headful at birth.  A lot of people called my dad Gene the Bean. I really don’t know where that nickname came from.  Now, Maddie Jean is the little bean, and she will know the meaning behind her nickname. Through my stories, Maddie Jean will come to know her Boppa and what an amazing angel she has watching over her now and forever.     

Written by Chloe Misner, pilot’s wife, Blooma mama, adventurer & Alzheimer’s advocate. You can find Maddie & me on Instagram @Babymaddiemize.