Grateful husband thanks Barrow for providing excellent dementia care to beloved wife
I remember the day I met my wife, Constance Ann. She worked for the C.G. Rein Group of art galleries managing the Scottsdale facility. I was looking for work when I spotted the help wanted sign in the window and went in to inquire. Though I was already involved as a writer and in magazine editing, I had majored in fine art and had taught secondary art before striking out to answer my true calling.
I introduced myself to Connie and expressed my interest in finding out how I might fit into their operations. In a matter of minutes, I realized I was talking to one the kindest and gentlest souls I had ever encountered. She coached me on the company and arranged my interviews during what became a drawn out process. As it turned out, I didn’t land a position. Nonetheless, Connie and I became friends. Our occasional visits began touching on the major upheavals in our lives at that time, allowing our friendship to evolve seamlessly into a deeper, abiding love.
We married 26 years ago at the age of 51. Throughout our marriage, Connie’s endearing grace, sensitivity, and creative spirit never ceased to amaze me. As we grew into our new lives, I felt we would be together forever. Little did we know, an insidious neurodegenerative disease would take that away.
Four years ago, Connie began exhibiting signs of mild cognitive impairment, struggling with her speech and communication, as well as processes and routines she could practically do in her sleep. Searching for understanding and clarity, I turned to the Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders Program at Barrow Neurological Institute. We met with Anna Burke, MD, and immediately felt the compassion she brings to her practice. We knew we would be well cared for.
Ensuing exams confirmed Connie’s plight as a devastating combination of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and primary progressive aphasia (PPA). Suddenly, we were trying to find our way on an unfamiliar path fraught with relentless challenges. Yet, Dr. Burke’s dedication, sensitivity, and care never wavered. She offered us everything in her arsenal, from critical information about the disease that we needed to know to the sincerity she extended to Connie at every stage of her treatment.
Despite the deterioration and havoc dementia inflicted, Connie’s innate mindset, deep-seeded emotions, and tenderness stepped up unscathed and were always in play. We cajoled each other and always found a way to laugh. Throughout her decline, Connie’s demeanor grew more childlike in gentle defiance of all that dementia works to destroy.
Connie passed away in the comfort of our home on August 5, 2022. I am forever grateful to have been the person to care for my dear wife throughout our harrowing journey into the realm of dementia. I am grateful for Dr. Burke and the entire Barrow memory disorders team too, for giving Connie and I a clear understanding of her diagnosis and for their compassionate sense of support in this caring medical community. We never felt alone.