A Simple Story of Love and Dementia

I knew Izaac for 13 years. We met when I was 63 and he was 69. From that day there was a bond between us. In later years Zac said that it was providential that we met when we did, and that was when the seed of love was planted, which slowly grew, blossomed and continued to flourish.

We worked together for three years; Zac was an incredibly creative and original thinker, whilst I was more talented at developing other people’s ideas. We made a great team. We respected each other’s ideas and opinions. We had a very open and honest relationship and, perhaps most important of all, we could laugh at ourselves and tease each other when we made mistakes. Zac was transferred to a nearby town, but we phoned each other frequently and visited once a month. Before that year ended I had moved back to the city and Zac came weeks later, finally retired.

Within a few months he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

From day one he said it was not going to rule his life, and for seven years it never did. Our friendship deepened into love. Just being together was enough to satisfy us. We led a very simple life, because familiarity, routines and patterns are very important in enabling a person with dementia to lead as normal a life as possible.

Every day we went on the same walk along the river, with Zac leading the way. Another direction would have totally confused him and what good would that do? As we approached the walkway I would say, Lovely sky, lovely river, and Zac would reply and lovely companion, and give me a kiss. Zac said that just holding hands was like making love.

Half way around our walk we stopped to sit on our favourite seat very close to the river bank—arms around each other, snuggled up together, totally at peace with the world. Zac was always asking questions, ‘What kind of clouds are they?’ ‘What are the black spots in front of my eye?’ ‘How high is that plane as it flies over the river?’ He kept me on my toes, and if he asked me again the next day I answered again.

There was nothing wrong with his mind even though his memory was going.

Continue reading Claire's story here.