On Labour Day weekend, my wife and I took the ferry over from Victoria to visit my wife’s grandmother Shirley at her nursing home in Port Angeles, Washington. The visit was bitter sweet for both of us as Shirley had developed a strong case of dementia since we saw her last at a wedding celebration hosted at her brother’s house back in Seattle. At first, my wife’s eyes welled up as she was so happy to see her grandmother, and we even managed to get a bit of a smile from Shirley in the first few moments we were there. But the reality of Shirley’s condition set in quickly as there was little to no recognition of who we might be to her at that point. For the most part, Shirley kept her eyes closed for the duration of our visit, which seemed to give her some comfort in the time we spent with her. We also took comfort in her sense of peace, but we also took the opportunity to try something we learned from a Netflix documentary called Alive Inside. The premise being, those suffering with dementia seem to “wake up” a bit when listening to music they once enjoyed from their earlier years. And sure enough, within seconds of playing some upbeat oldies from the fifties, Shirley’s head and foot began to move to the beat of the tracks. It was a beautiful experience being able to get through to Shirley in this special way, feeling her light up inside in this small way brought us both great joy. With that, here’s one of a few shots I took from our trip that helped capture our very special time with grandma Shirley. A strong, and brave woman who deserves all the respect and love in the world, and not someone to be forgotten because of the illness that strikes millions each year without discrimination. To learn more about dementia, visit The Alzheimer Society of Canada.

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