My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when I was ten years old. Up until then from the time I was a baby my family every week would visit my grandparents in Germantown, Philadelphia. We just couldn’t turn down Grandmom’s Sunday pot roast dinner.
Mom grew up in the same house with six brothers and sisters, in the neighborhood where they would occasionally see the von Trapp family, made famous by the movie, The Sound of Music, walking down the street.
Why I really loved going there each week was mostly to see my grandfather, Gramps, as we called him, because he loved to hang out and play with my brother and me from the minute we got there until it was time to leave. Roughhousing in Grandmom’s back yard was only allowed when we came over, or so said Gramps.
After Gramps was diagnosed his personality changed over time. He didn’t want to mess around with us anymore. He didn’t talk as much either. Our parents tried to explain it to us. They called it “going senile”.
Sometimes Gramps would get angry with us for pretty much no reason. Sometimes he would tell us a story of something that happened around the house, and we didn’t have the heart to tell him he told us the same exact story over a dozen times. Then, over time, he forgot who we were for a spell. And then one time he forgot and he never remembered again. That was rough.
It’s a horrible thing to know that you’ve lost someone you love when they’re sitting right across from you. Every year to this day I donate to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). It couldn’t help my Gramps, but hopefully someday it will pay off for some other kid who loves pot roast on Sundays.
Ted McDermott was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and over time, his memories and personality began to deteriorate. His son Mac began to take a look at ways to help his father’s memory and decided he needed to do something to help his father relive again.
Knowing that his father had a massive passion for music, and had spent some time in his younger years singing in clubs all throughout the United Kingdom.
“Dad was a singer all his life – he was a Butlin’s Redcoat and then traveled around singing in clubs around the country. He worked in a factory after he got married and still did the bit of singing on side. His nickname is ‘The Songaminute Man’ – simply because of how many songs he knows.
In the last few years his memory has deteriorated a lot – often not recognizing family and with many aggressive episodes.”
He realized that his father recognizes his favorite tunes and begins singing when these songs come on.
“Now when we’ve got him singing again he’s back in the room. It’s these moments that we treasure.
The plan is to share as much of Dad’s singing as we can and hopefully help raise money to fund the work of the Alzheimer’s Society – more specifically to go towards paying for a person at the end of the phone line to help other people like us.”
While each day can bring on a new struggle for the pair, they’ve begun to record their singing sessions together. They’re working on raising money for Alzheimer’s research through crowdfunding, and they are working on creating an album together as well.
The terrible disease affects so many people across the globe, and while McDermott is still struggling with the day to day, they’ve found a way to bring their family together through little moments.
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