‘My grandpa doesn’t recognize the woman he’s spent 70 years with. She still loves him unconditionally.’: Granddaughter captures ‘pure’ love between her grandparents, despite devastating Alzheimer’s diagnosis

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“My grandparents are serious #relationshipgoals, because not only have they been married for 67 years, but they have loved each other through good times and bad times and never once given up on each other.

elderly couple in close embrace in black an white
Meghan Helton Photography

Almost eight years ago, my grandma had a very unexpected arterial venous malformation (AVM) in her brain, which was a cluster of blood vessels that untangled, burst, and required brain surgery.

elderly woman smiles in chair in her home
Meghan Helton Photography

As a result of the brain surgery, she had to relearn how to do essentially everything: walking, talking, eating, etc., but through all of that, my grandpa never left her side and took the absolute best care of her.

elderly wife sits on husbands lap with is arm around her
Meghan Helton Photography

The pure love you could see in his eyes when he looked at her was the kind of love that everyone dreams of experiencing in their own life, but rarely ever do.

elderly couple gives each other a kiss
Meghan Helton Photography

Only two to three years after my grandma had brain surgery, my grandpa started showing signs of Alzheimer’s.

When I first heard of the suspicions that my grandpa may have Alzheimer’s, I was in complete denial because for as long as I could remember, both of my grandparents were always extremely active – not just physically, but mentally – so the thought of my grandpa potentially having Alzheimer’s seemed almost impossible to me.

elderly man leans forward in his chair holding someones hand
Meghan Helton Photography

You see, my grandpa was always a jokester – full of love, laughter, and a little bit of orneriness.

couples posing closely through the years
Meghan Helton Photography

He was always outside doing something – whether it was tinkering around in his garage, going on a walk with his wife, or playing with his grandchildren – he always had a ‘spark’ in him and his positivity was contagious.

elderly couple at the forefront and in the background they are side by side throughout the years
Meghan Helton Photography

It’s so weird to write about my grandpa in the past tense when he’s still alive – I had to stop for a minute, because if I’m being honest, it feels like I’m writing his eulogy. This is only one example of how devastating this disease is – Alzheimer’s affects the very core of what makes a person who they are and robs them of their memories.

elderly man sitting in his chair looking into the distance
Meghan Helton Photography

Because of the Alzheimer’s, my grandpa’s mood can vary by the day/hour/minute, and sometimes you never know what kind of response you’re going to get when you greet him – if any at all.

elderly man with a calm look on his face while sitting in chair
Meghan Helton Photography

For some people, a nursing home is the best option for their loved one with Alzheimer’s, but there is no way that my grandma would ever let that happen. My grandma is such an incredible woman with faith stronger than anyone I have ever met – she truly believes that God kept her alive during the AVM/brain surgery and allowed her to have such a speedy recovery so she would be able to be here to take care of her best friend in the last years of their life together.

elderly wife sits on her husbands lap as he wraps his arms around her
Meghan Helton Photography

There are moments that my grandpa sometimes doesn’t recognize the woman he’s spent 70+ years with, but she still loves him unconditionally.

And even though the moments and interactions that you see in these photos may not be an everyday occurrence, the fact that they happen at all makes everything worthwhile.

hands of elderly couple holding each other
Meghan Helton Photography

All my life, even now, I have never been around them one time when they weren’t holding each other’s hand.

hands being held by elderly couple
Meghan Helton Photography

If you ever ask my grandma for relationship advice, she will simply say: ‘Stick it out!’ My grandparents came from a generation where everything was valuable to them – if something was broken, they didn’t simply discard it and replace it with something new and ‘better’ – they took the time and the effort to fix it.

couple at their wedding ceremony
Meghan Helton Photography

The love that my grandparents share is the kind of love I aspire to have in my own personal relationships, because not only have I witnessed just how much they love each other unconditionally, but I have also witnessed how much they genuinely love other people unconditionally.

They are truly the most inspiring people I have ever met, and I am blessed to be able to call them my grandparents.”

elderly couple smiling as wife sits on husbands lap
Meghan Helton Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Megan Helton, 23, of Lansing, Michigan. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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