The narrative in John and Kerry video is John's own words, that he put to paper in a support group after his beloved wife moved into her new home. We have provided John's heartfelt letter below to provide an example of strength and inspiration for those whose lives have been forever changed by dementia.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I took my wife to a memory care facility – the place where she will spend the rest of her life.
There was no movie-style ending to the conclusion to the first part of our lives. No tearful goodbyes.
It had been planned out in advance. I drive the 15 miles from our home without explanation . I take her hand and lead her into her new home. I tell her that she needs changes to her medication that require her to stay a few days. She smiles, but I do not sense a level of understanding.
We are met and greeted warmly by several of the professional staff who guided us to the room that will be her new home. We walk slowly – she stops several times to admire art work that punctuates the hallway to her room. She smiled. She has always loved art. Over the years, she passed on that appreciation to me – one of the many gifts she gave me the first 50 years of our life together. We visited hundreds of art museums around the world and shared our enjoyment of some of the greatest masterpieces.
Along the way, she gets excited about the pictures of other residents’ children and grandchildren.
She worked with children all of her life and today they are the one thing that can get her to rise above her disease. She loves them all. This appreciation of the smallest person she shared with me. Always looking at the “big picture” as I often do can be very dehumanizing , she taught me to care about people as individuals.
We reached her room and she smiles again with recognition of many of the things she has loved through the years that I have secretly moved here. Her collections of Native American art, crystal Hearts, and books catch her attention.
She looks approvingly at the pictures on the walls from trips around the world – destinations she can only dimly remember. Love of travel and destinations was one of the gifts I gave to her. Like art, we shared that exhilaration of new cultures and ideas.
She glances around the room, her eyes coming to rest on the many photographs of family and friends, living and deceased, and she beams yet again. They are all alive in her mind and although many of the names are forgotten, the memory of their love and friendship is clear and strong.
Far too soon, the support staff returns to divert her so that I can leave without her knowing I have gone. I leave thinking positively that we will continue to share experiences as we have in the past. I will just have to share those experiences for the both of us.
I have memories of the past and hopes for the future, but Alzheimer’s has taught me the importance of the moment. Nothing else really matters. Each day is complete with its victories and setbacks and I rejoice or feel sorrow as each occurs. Tomorrow is very far away.
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Learn more about John's decision to seek out additional care options for his beloved wife.
Connect with other families who are also caring for a loved one affected by dementia.
Learn about the types of dementia and watch videos of our medical directors as they discuss dementia and end-of-life.
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