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‘He still remembered his faith,’ A father’s battle with Alzheimer’s

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EDMOND, Okla - You can tell a lot about a man by his possessions.

Tools suggest a guy who could fix anything.

Pictures of the grandchildren confirm he's a sentimental family man.

And a worn out Bible next to his favorite chair demonstrates a spiritual depth.

"My dad was right with God and he was ready. I always knew that when he left one day, he would be fine," said Sue VanHousen.

Larry Clay West was born on a Colorado farm in 1939.

He was one of 12 children, a proud United States Marine, a dedicated husband and father.

"My dad treasured his family and loved his country. His first order of business every day was to raise the American flag in his front yard. He respected what it stood for," said Lance West.

When dad's memory began to fade, we all assumed it was just the signs of age and hard work creeping up on him.

However, doctors delivered the staggering truth.

Alzheimer's had infiltrated our family like destructive termites to wood.

"I think the difficult thing about this disease is to watch someone who could do so many things lose that ability and depend on other people. It's a very difficult thing to watch," Gary VanHousen, Larry's son-in-law, said.

For five years we watched, helplessly, as Alzheimer's slowly and achingly took away dad's identity and his ability to connect with others.

Our hearts collectively shattered when the phone rang at 2:02 a.m., April 25, 2014.

The cruel disease had finally stolen the man who meant so much to so many.

"He still remembered his family. He still remembered his faith. That was encouraging to me as being my other dad. He's missed," said Teri West, Larry's daughter-in-law.

There are 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's.

And as my family so painfully learned this year, there are no survivors.

Register here to help in the fight against Alzheimer's. Walk with others to find treatments and a cure.