J: Fraternities are a big deal. Two of my boys are in the same frat and I've heard countless stories about Theta Chi and all it means to them. Getting in to the frat is a big part of it. Kids vie for a spot, and hazing (though formally banned) weeds out the kids that aren't going to make it. Strange rituals, words and hand signals are all part of being a Theta Chi guy. They speak the same language. Once in, these young men are friends for life. They help each other through college and beyond. The bond is truly a lifetime bond.
Yesterday I went to a wake for the dad of a friend of ours. Their dad died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. As I spoke to each of the kids in the family I realized that, like it or not, we are now in the same fraternity. We speak the same language. We all know what it's like to deal with a parent with AD. Our hazing, though, takes place once we are in the frat. The daily grind of AD hones us into members. The words and rituals may vary from family to family, but essentially we are all doing the same thing: helping a loved one live a life that is not of their choosing, and watching that loved one slip away and become someone we no longer recognize.
As I offered my condolences, I also recognized that they are really the lucky ones. Their dad is no longer suffering. They can now remember him as the dad he was before AD took over.
Their dad was a funny man and they are laying him to rest with a smile on his face. Their hazing rituals have ended. We press on in the fraternity no one chooses.