These are images I made of my grandmother loving her husband, Wayne.
My grandmother goes garage sale'ing, but almost never for herself, usually to find that one specific thing you mentioned months ago you fancied. (My mom has a china cabinet full of pink glassware to prove it). She's strong. Opinionated. And full of more love and understanding than I'll probably know.
My grandmother married Wayne before I was born. When I would go over to their house, he'd roll massive slow-pitch softballs down their slanted driveway for my cousins and me to catch. It's funny what things stick with you as a kid.
Wayne has dementia. He lives in the permanently locked Dover Ward at the Missouri Veterans Home.
He lost the last five words he knew how to say in early August of 2013, and can only communicate with my grandmother through yelling.
No one can truly know when it's right to make that choice to transition into assisted living, or what it takes for a person to say "I can't do this alone anymore." Is it when they take the keys and try to drive, but can't remember how to turn the ignition? Is it when the nursing home calls and says , "he's next up" after years of sitting on a waiting list. The first time they called, my grandmother said she couldn't do it.
Before he was placed in permanent care in 2008, Wayne was not fully aware what was happening to his mental condition. "There was one day where he couldn't remember the word for cemetery, just kept begging for me to take him out to the place where my daddy was buried," Barbara said. Wayne then called his son Tim, Barbara's step-son, and asked him to bring a gun. "If he could've ended it then, himself, he would've."
"I just know he's in there, somewhere. When he looks in my eyes, he's not looking at my messed up hair, or my feet or any of that. He's looking at me,"