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About the Writer:

As a wife, mother, daughter, friend and believer, Jo explores the work of God in all her roles and situations. With a deep hunger to learn more about the ways of the Lord, Jo conveys the truths she's learned through vivid descriptions and personal stories. Her love of Jesus carries her and her writing expresses her deepest love.


The SOUL Search: Daddy, Are You In There?

By Jo Ludwig

Subject: Alzheimer’s and Faith - The body may be stripped and naked but can you talk to the soul?

Daddy is with Jesus now. He died April 1, 2005 . He suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

It looks like just another life story when you state it that bluntly. In a way, that is all that it is; just another “life” story. But when the story is your own and it is your daddy, things take on a new meaning.

Leo Joseph Appelbaum, Jr. would have been a 72 year old Yankee Doodle Boy if he had lived one more 4th of July. When we lost him to physical death, it would be the second time we would mourn “the loss of a man”.

As I look back upon the last 8 years of life with daddy, I see suffering and challenge and miracles. The suffering and challenges never surprised me. It was the miracles during that time that fed my faith.

Much of what happens to a person with Alzheimer’s becomes a cloud of mystery, even and especially to the person WITH the disease. It is an ugly disease; a disease that robs at will. As believers, however, one thing we can cling to is a truth that Paul speaks eloquently in one of his letters to the Romans. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8: 37-39). I believe this truth that Paul proclaims and my life experience in the last months of daddy’s life bears this out.

He no longer knew my name. At times that was unbearable, other times it was a source of laughter and simple joy; mostly it was confusing. Learning to speak “the language of Alzheimer’s” is a constant frustration because it changes frequently. There were few, yet distinct moments when I knew that daddy knew “it was me, his firstborn”. These were the times that God came nearest and fed my spirit with the life giving strength and peace only God can give. One particular day is especially memorable. It is my constant joy-filled treasure, now that daddy is in heaven.

It was Easter Sunday, March 27, 2005 , and daddy was really struggling. I chose to stay home with him so mom could enjoy a day out which she badly needed. I did not know that day that daddy would be gone less than one week later. It is the best Easter Sunday I have ever experienced.

Dad and I have a long, difficult history; and that will be a story for another day. For now, may it suffice to say I needed much healing from all of the wounds I still carried as an adult woman that came from my abusive past. It was strange, in that the Alzheimer’s had created a path of safety where the mean man could no longer hurt me. Only the shadow of that man and the mystery of dad’s spirit remained. It was in this broken, naked state of physicality that God showed me my daddy’s soul...

I sang my daddy to sleep on the couch that afternoon. That was something I had always wanted and needed from my daddy. The ache inside me was bleeding and broken. I needed daddy to sing for me. Woven into the perfection of God’s plan for that day was an answer to a life-long prayer from the depths of that pain within my own “little girl” broken heart. As I sang to my dad it was I who was healed. The calm of my dad’s head and shoulders cradled against me fed me in a way I will never forget. It was God’s gift of grace and healing only days before my daddy would die. I believe it was the search by two souls that found its expression that Easter Sunday. I rose with my daddy to the spring of eternal life and felt God’s breath and peace. My search for a soul was complete and the soul that was healed was mine!


Copyright © November 19, 2005 – Jo Ludwig. All rights reserved.


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