October 6, 2019
The Blake at Edgewater and Aldersgate
This trip has been full of so much joy, so much fun, so much gratitude. Amid that splendid jubilation there have been profound pieces of raw humanity tied to dementia, something never foreseen when we planned the journey. That happened today at Aldersgate. Maria Hagadorn had talked us into a community visit a couple of months ago. I had heard good things about the community over the years but had never visited it before. Wow! The grounds, the buildings, the overall look and feel just blew me away. We pulled into the memory care side of the house around 10 AM, not having any idea what to expect, but a lot of excitement was waiting for us when we got there. Our first cruise was with Mr. and Mrs. Setzer (Peter and Sue). They are an adorable, stylish couple full of dignity and grace. Mr. Setzer climbed into the front seat, full of energy and spirit but dealing with dementia. Mrs. Setzer, even though I only spent 30 minutes or so with her, has as much dignity, grace, and compassion as anyone I have ever known. Mr. Setzer has an amazing baritone voice that came alive as we drove, cranking out “Home on the Range”. But the most powerful moment yet on the tour was the interactions between Mr. and Mrs. Setzer when they started singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. He came to life, his eyes shone, he looked at her as he probably looked at her when they were courting. I had an odd mix of emotions, as it felt so personal, something too fragile to film. But I simultaneously thought of the thousands of people who could benefit from seeing this video, people losing hope through the dementia process. Mrs. Setzer’s words, delicately delivered as her husband was in the van, about the journey from her perspective, was also a powerful testimonial to the power of faith, grace, and humility.
The rest of the day was phenomenal. Our other visit to The Blake at Edgewater was a hoot. Margaret Smith and her daughter Elizabeth are awesome! And the Blake team threw a phenomenal party – spectacular all around. We had a great cruise with Tillie and Nancy. But I can only honestly dedicate this day to the Setzers. That was as deep of a look of love from Peter to Sue as I have ever seen between a man and a woman. Whatever else the disease has taken from him, the love for this woman, from the depth of his soul, came alive through a simple drive and a simple song. Thank you, Mrs. Setzer, for letting us peek into your marriage; it was a joyous thing to experience.