“Sometimes people come into your life and surprise you with the impact they have. Stacey, Bill, and Pat are some of those people.
I met Stacey a few months ago when I reached out to borrow her vintage truck to do some photo sessions. She met me at States Coffee & Mercantile in Martinez, introduced me to Ruby (the sweetest old truck I ever did meet), and we hit it off right away. She told me about about her father and his truck, his other automotive works in progress, and right before we left, she settled in and told me a bit about her mother.
See, Stacey’s mom has Alzheimer’s, and it’s gotten pretty bad. There are good days where she’s in and out of lucidity and generally just floating on by, but there are also bad days. REALLY bad days. Hard days that make all three of them go to bed with heavy hearts. Her stories were bittersweet, sometimes making both of us belly laugh and sometimes making our eyes well up. I felt so grateful that Stacey shared her family’s story with me.
The day of our session was a good day for Pat! She showed up with a smile and sweetly asked me and Bill, ‘What are we doing here? It’s such a pretty day out.’ I explained I was taking some photos with Ruby, and she was welcome to just watch and relax.
She was fine with that, and after meeting my clients and petting their sweet dogs, she sweetly asked me and Bill, ‘What are we doing here? It’s such a pretty day out.’ I smiled enthusiastically and explained again. She seemed content with it.
We had that conversation 4-5 more times throughout the day.
All in all, the sessions went well, and even though we had to remind Pat many times why we were there, she was happy and talkative and playful with all the kids and dogs who showed up. Near the end of the session, I asked politely if they might want to take some photos together, as a small thank you for showing up for my sessions with their wonderful truck. They agreed and, in typical me fashion, I started asking some questions about their life and relationship together. To my surprise, Pat piped in with story after story about Stacey and her brothers, wedding stories, sad and happy memories, talk of all their past dogs, almost anything she could think of. I could tell Bill enjoyed watching her chat and interact. I could also tell how happy and safe he made her feel, even in her confusion. We laughed a lot and smiled a lot, and by the end, I felt as though I couldn’t have been luckier to have met them. It was a truly joyful part of my day.
They we all packed up to go and Bill, after getting Pat settled in the car, quietly approached and said, ‘I’m so happy we were able to get these photos today. On Wednesday, we’re moving her into a memory care facility.’
My heart just broke for him and Stacey. We hugged, and I told him I was sorry they were going through this, and I wished the best for them. He hugged back, and with tears in his eyes, said he knew it was time, and it was the right thing to do. We shared a resigned look, one more squeeze, and then went our separate ways. I can honestly say I’ve been￼ indescribably changed by my very short experience with them both.
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases in the US. It’s probably affected everyone you know. I’d be willing to wager it’s most likely affected you personally. If you’re at all interested, you can donate to the Alzheimer’s Association and help them in the fight against Alzheimer’s and other dementia disorders. We all deserve to live with a healthy mind well into old age, and we all deserve to hold onto our loved ones for as long as we can. Hopefully, one day this fight will come to and end.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kate Cohen. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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