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What They Had And What Many People Still Receive

Recently, I watched a film that was released on January 21, 2018, titled What They Had. The film focuses on a family coming together after a woman named Ruth, who has dementia, wanders off during a blizzard, and her husband and kids fight amongst themselves to decide what’s best for her well-being. Watching this made me think about my family and everything we’ve been through for over three years of taking care of my dad, who has vascular dementia, along with other medical conditions.

It specifically made me think about my parents and everything they’ve been through for over three years of my dad’s medical journey. It also made me put things into perspective about what I think many couples still need in moments of crisis. So, the beginning of the movie starts with Ruth wandering at night during a blizzard. Her kids, Bridget and Nicolas, are on their way to see their parents when Nicolas explains how what happened to Ruth is no surprise and that it’s time to start considering putting Ruth in a memory care facility by saying, “I knew this was going to happen. I’ve been telling him for years you got to figure out what you’re going to do with mom when the time comes because we all know what’s coming. We all know how this thing works.”

He continues saying, “It’s over; she’s not staying in that condo anymore. She’s going to a place, and he’s going to have to let her.” Seeing how Nicolas takes charge of the situation regarding his mom’s health made me think about how my brother takes charge of the situation regarding my dad’s health. Whenever major events took place that caused my dad to be in a hospital or nursing home, my brother would always speak up the most and express his thoughts on what was best for dad’s well-being.

When Bridget and Nicolas are with their dad at their parent’s house, Bridget has a conversation with her dad Burt in which Burt objects to the idea of sending his wife away by saying, “I am not putting your mother in a nursing home. She spent thirty years working in nursing homes. They’re horrible.” Bridget warns Burt that Ruth’s condition will only go downhill from here by saying, “She’s going to get worse, Dad. She’s going to forget everything.” However, despite her warning, Burt still stands by his belief saying, “She’s my girl Bridget, you can’t take my girl away from me…Love is commitment. For better or worse, sickness and health, death do you part. That is a promise.”

This made me think about my parents a lot because this December is their wedding anniversary of sharing thirty-three years of marriage together. Their marriage wasn’t perfect, they’d had their share of hard times like other people would. However, after everything they’ve been through, they’re still together today, especially now since my dad is sick with dementia and other conditions, and my mom still stands by him as his wife and advocate. Some people are fortunate to have a significant other who’s committed to them even in the darkest of times.

According to an article published by the Alzheimer's Association website, a couple named Mike and Julia Benson had been married for more than forty-seven years when Mike was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. They were asked in an interview about how their committed partnership helped them deal with Alzheimer’s disease together, where Julia stated, “Big factors for us are hard work, accepting the ups and downs, our faith in God, and our hope for advances in research. I think it's also important to love and respect each other and try to ignore each other's faults. No one is perfect! We look for ways to serve each other and put each other's needs above our own. We definitely try to encourage each other; and we make it a point to laugh a lot.” Mike also adds to this by explaining how important it is to stay committed to each other in this journey together, saying, “Never give up; it's so easy to give up when you're faced with this kind of situation, but you just can't.”

Robert Ferguson reflects on the life he shared with his wife, Glenda Anne, and he explains his commitment to taking care of his wife after her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease by saying, "The whole time that she was sick, I never stopped loving her. It seemed like going through all of this, I just loved her more. It makes me love her more, and just doing what I was doing made me love God more too," in this source published by ABC 33 40 News writer Ashley Gooden,

Towards the end of the movie, Ruth’s husband Burt passes away, and her kids Bridget and Nicolas can place their mom in a memory care facility where she will be cared for by professionals. Watching that scene made me think about my dad and how fortunate he must feel to be at home with his family despite his medical condition and the challenges that come with it because not everyone gets to have that privilege.

In an article published by the Blakeford Senior Life website, a man named Kevin Jameson recounts his experience of living with his wife, Ginny, who was diagnosed with dementia. He talks about how Ginny fell down the stairs one day, and the scary experience made him decide to place her in a facility by saying, “…I made the decision right there that no matter how much I loved having her at home, and would hope she would’ve been able to stay, she needed to move to a place with even greater supervision.”

To conclude, vascular dementia has made my family stronger and closer together. I don’t know how my dad would manage if he didn’t have my mom, but I’m thankful they both have each other.

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