Dementia hits families hard. Those suffering from the illness often lose touch with the family that supports them through to the inevitable end. Some, though, keep access to the memories buried deep inside. Some of the earliest memories are the last to go. The video below captures this in stunning detail.
[Scroll Down for Video]
“Mary-Lou Versteegh, from London in Ontario, often sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’ to her granddaughter Nicole Coenen, 24, until, in 2009, the former orchard owner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved to a nursing home,” The Daily Mail writes.
Versteegh has lost touch with most of her past. She’s forgotten the names and faces of family. Yet the song remains.
Sadly, Versteegh died at 81 in October of 2017. The videos were recorded by her granddaughter, Nicole Coenen, who would visit her once a week for the last six years.
“She would forget who I was but she always remembered the words of that song,” her granddaughter said.
“It was a way of bringing her back because she would always brighten up. She was a ray of sunshine.”
“Before she was diagnosed my grandmother was basically the glue that held our family together. She was a ray of sunshine,” Coenen said.
“We started noticing little things were wrong around 2009, when she started to grow tired a lot and forgetting things.
“We just thought, ‘Oh, she’s getting old’, but it got worse. It was really scary for her and for everyone else. She had watched her parents and best friend die of Alzheimer’s and it was her biggest fear in life.”
“Whenever I would go and visit her in the nursing home I would sing it to her. It was my mom’s idea to document it.”
“She would forget who I was but she always remembered the words of that song, and then she might start to remember other things, it would trigger her memory.”
“It was a way of bringing her back because she would always brighten up. I had no idea it would do that.”
Patty Coenen, Versteegh’s daughter, added: “My mom loved to sing to her grandchildren. She was always a happy person that made others feel better after they sat with her.”
“The video still gives me chills and warms my heart when I hear them both singing. It brings back beautiful memories.”
“My mom might have lost her memory, might not have known who we all were anymore and she might not have been able to eat or drink or walk as she did before.”
“My mom might not have been the person that we all remember her as, but she was an enormous role model for all of us and she taught us how even in the darkness that she was going through, she never gave up.”