CLEVELAND — An Ohio family is making sure their father remembers how loved he is through the toughest battle of his life. Even through Paul Skrbina’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, the Skrbina sisters have worked hard to keep their parents together, comfortable and looking forward. Stephany and Paul Skrbina created an incredible family foundation. She remembers her wedding day as if it was yesterday.
“I saw the love in his face…and that’s something you read about…but you don’t see it and I saw it,” said Stephany.
She says she still sees the love in her husband Paul’s face – even though he is living with Alzheimer’s.
“I see glimmers of him when we talk or I talk but when I watch him and with his eyes…I see glimmers in there and I can’t let that go…I have a lot of trouble with it,” said Stephany.
Before Paul was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – he was Stephanie’s primary caretaker. She suffered a stroke in 2019 which caused her to lose mobility and now – she is partially blind. Paul cared for her even during his early stages of dementia until he needed care too with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Their daughters quickly stepped in.
“He’s young, I feel young…it’s kind of unbelievable. You imagine your parents getting older and you know it’s going to happen but you don’t imagine it happening like this,” said their daughter Abigail. “It’s torture for him and for us and all being so young and thinking we had so much more time.”
“It’s challenging to juggle, it's so hard to feel like we all have a family of our own too,” said their daughter Sarah.
Eventually the sisters knew around the clock care was their best option. Earlier this year, Paul and Stephany moved here to a nursing facility and their daughters visit as much as possible.
“A lot of people ask us…I don’t know how you handle it to so well, or how you remain so positive and luckily, there is built in therapy in here,” said Sarah. “When times get hard we do not turn on each other, we rely on each other. We’ve had such a wonderful family and such a wonderful dad and we’ve had him for so long and we hate to see him through this…and our childhood was just fun.”
Their dad was always at the center of their family. Paul was a youth softball coach, an umpire, their provider, best friend…the dad who was always there. The sisters know that he was so proud to walk each of them down the aisle. However, today is a bit different.
“It’s the loss. It’s like you're grieving while someone is still here, that’s the hardest part. Our dad as we know him isn’t here,” said their daughter Adrienne. “I don’t want him to feel the sadness that he feels and we want him to feel safe and happy and content.”
The sisters want to find a cure and they are desperate for it. Stephany says through the pain, her groom still makes her the happiest bride in the world.
“He’s my guy. He’s always been my guy and he will always be my guy. He has always been there for me and I’ve always been there for him.”