Creativity had long been a part of Amy’s* life. She sewed, painted and was an accomplished opera singer. Three years ago that changed when the 58-year-old started to develop memory issues.
These days, she relies on her husband of 34 years for the big and little things in life. “Even though I’m broken he loves me anyway,” Amy says of Craig*.
What does love look like? Something like this — driving over an hour to take part in a pottery class at the Falmouth Art Center on a sunny morning last June. Over the course of nearly two hours, the couple painted a simple plate they had crafted together.
“Programs like this are important to give people a sense of purpose,” Craig says.
Funded through a grant from the Arts Foundation, this class gives couples like Craig and Amy a shared purpose. The plate itself isn’t important. The act of creating it together is.
A cruel disease may be robbing Amy of her memories. But the love remains.
A table away, it was a similar scene as Bob and Mary* painted a bowl for their golden retriever Jack. Both in their mid-70s, the dynamics of their relationship have changed since they were first married in 1968. Bob is both the husband and the caretaker for Mary, a former music teacher who is suffering from a degenerative brain disease that is impacting her memory.
Though she can still play piano, the disease is impacting her ability to do basic tasks and remember what she did a few hours ago.
“This class reduces stress and gives my wife something for her to do and allows her to socialize,” her husband says.
“With this group, it is honestly important to get them out of their own homes and meet people in similar circumstances,” teacher Kimberly Sheerin (pictured above) says. “It’s also about the caregivers and giving them a little break and having someone else facilitate help with their loved ones. And you know, it’s so rewarding to see them smiling when bringing a finished piece home.”
Outside in the parking lot, Bob walks his wife Mary to their car. Their dog Jack is seated patiently in the back seat, his head out the window. As the couple prepares to head home, Jack looks up and smiles, “Having a creative outlet like this is healing, comforting. Tell the people who fund this that it’s so helpful. I appreciate it. My wife appreciates it.”
*Names of individuals have been changed to protect their identity.
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