I want to tell you a story of Love. It’s the story of my parents. It’s the reason I do what I do.
My parents met in grade school, in a small-town elementary school. The town was so small that all the grades were mixed together. My Dad fell in love with her almost as soon as he saw her.
She was special. Even us, their children, thought she was special. She just had a knack for understanding others and had tremendous empathy for everyone around. Especially those down on their luck.
Their first date was when he was 15 and she was 14. Well, it was supposed to be their first date. Dad got sick and had to go to the hospital. It was Mumps. This was around 1950. You didn’t go to the hospital unless you were half-dead back then. Well, my mother’s mother, my grandmother, took my mother to the hospital to see him. I think everyone must have known this was a love story meant to be.
There would be more dates. They dated through high school. He was on the football team and she was one of the cheerleaders. Class of 12. If you were male, you were on the football team. If you were female, you were a cheerleader. And so it went.
She was a pianist. One of her uncles bought her a piano and her mother saved to buy her piano lessons. She was amazing. She played at church, funerals, and weddings. Everyone loved her style. She earned a scholarship to go to Julliard School of Music in New York City. Well, there was no way for her to afford to live in New York so she passed on this potentially life-changing opportunity.
They graduated from high school. Mom and Dad briefly parted while he went to work in another town and she went to pursue College, a business school to teach how to be a great secretary in the big city. Now it’s nearing the mid-1950’s. She loved it. She really didn’t want to live in a small town again. She loved the excitement and opportunities. She was one of the fastest, if not the fastest, typists in school. 120 wpm on the old typewriters! After her year at school, she went to work for the US government, in the Bureau of Reclamation. And so her career began.
They married. Then began having children. She gave up her career for the time being. But she poured her heart and soul into being the perfect wife, perfect mother and whatever else you could be perfect at. Now it was the 60s. Women were trying to model after the television shows at the time, meaning you had to be perfect. It changed after a hospital stay for exhaustion. But she still pursued excellence in everything she did. She was an amazing cook, among other things.
They had three children. My brother, me and my little sister. Things weren’t always perfect. You know how ‘passionate people’ are. But they strove to create a wonderful childhood for us three. And they did. She became great at sewing, even making a lot of our clothes, leading the organizations we belonged to, being part of the parent’s groups at our school. He did woodworking and made treehouses, dollhouses and fun things like that. They modeled how devoted a man can be to his wife and how an adoring wife can follow her husband. That’s how the world was back then.
Mom went back to work and excelled. She worked for engineering companies as either Assistant to the President or Office Manager, or both. Had she gotten a Bachelor’s degree, she probably would have done a lot more, but she felt gratified in her work and her bosses and co-workers loved her. She was intelligent, articulate, and an all-around good egg. This was the 70s and women were just coming into their own in the business world.
The 80s came and so did grandchildren. Mom continued to work and found the neatest things for her grandchildren. She knew how to make things special. Both of her parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, at nearly the same time. That’s when we started to wonder if it might be hereditary. Although, previous generations had just died of ‘old age’. There were times this love story wasn’t so loving. There were times I thought they should get divorced. lol.
Then came the 90s. We lost my brother in a horrific accident. This rebonded them. They were reunited in their grief. And we made memories with my brother’s children, my niece and nephew.
In the 2000s, we started to see a very intelligent woman decline. The memory started slipping. I remember having conversations with my Dad and sister about our worry about her memory and our concerns about Alzheimer’s. After a few years, she was diagnosed with dementia.
Dad was forced into taking care of his beloved as if she were a child. It was tough to accept. This intelligent woman was declining into a childlike person he’d never known. He started studying and trying to find answers to help her. There just wasn’t as much known at the time as there is now. But he did keep her going for almost 20 more years. He was showing his true devotion.
In the later years, everything he did was for her. If they went to church, it was because she enjoyed it. If they went out to eat, well it was partly for him, but mostly for her. He got her out so that she could interact because he instinctively knew that this would help prolong her life. And the supplements he gave her and getting her out did prolong her life.
She passed away last June 2019, about two weeks shy of their 64th anniversary. Even though we knew it was coming, it was devastating. Especially for him. The love of his life. Gone.
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He is carrying on. It’s hard. He’s now carrying on for me and my sister.
I don’t think I have ever witnessed a love story like this, before or since. I’m sure you’re out there. 🙂
I want you to know, dementia and Alzheimer’s are preventable. Early stages are even curable. I implore you to read through the articles here and elsewhere about supplements and nutrition that are shown to prevent and help dementia and Alzheimer’s. Your health and Life could depend on it.
Thank you for reading today. I was happy to share one of the greatest love stories of all time. At this Valentine’s Day time of year.