Amy Brathwaite Photography | Still Barb
Alzheimer Society of Canada, Alzheimer Society of Alberta and NWT
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Still Barb

Alzheimer’s is so cruel. It robs people of their words, their memories, their loved ones, their capacities. And as she retreats to her happy memories, it’s hardest on the family members who are left behind. Barb is retreating, so quickly. She is not old, it has not been long, but ever so swiftly is slipping. But two things illuminate her … music, and her grand-daughter. I spent time with Barb and her girls this past weekend at the farm. Her daughter is balancing care, affection and attention between her mum and her little girl, this little girl who came to the world 2.5 years ago just when we needed her. She is too young to understand what is happening to her grandmother. But she is so gentle with her. She reads to her, helps cut her nails and brush her hair and she talks to her. They dance. In fact, the only time I heard Barb speak this weekend was in conversation with Shela. And when she did, there she was – Still Barb. Her twinkle, her smile, her movement to the music, her love of dancing. She’s still there, just quiet now.

I stand in admiration of the grace and courage demonstrated by my dear friend, a caretaker, a daughter, wife, a mum, a sister. Navigating this journey with such empathy, strength and compassion – and – so thankful that Shela came along just when she did. More and more, I’m feeling drawn to the photos that connect generations, that celebrate the long journey’s our parents and grandparents have been on and to remember to laugh, dance, connect and hold hands, right now … right this very moment.

I wrote this originally in February 2015. Yesterday, in the early hours of Christmas morning, Barb slipped away. She leaves behind a legacy filled with love, the best of which is emulated in her daughters. If I could bottle up all the love she gave in her lifetime, I’d want her family to be able to carry it with them always. I continue to stand in awe of the grace, courage and strength demonstrated by my dear friend. May you feel the love surrounding you, as you mourn your beloved mum. ♥

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi.

 

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