All-about-Lillian: A Journey Into Vascular Dementia

Please click on the titles as some of these galleries contain multiple images.

Lillian - December

Its been a year since Lillian went to live at Baycrest where caring people have been looking after her. Her memory continues to fail but she has constantly reminded me of her wish to go home. The other day, while we were in the noisy common area on her ward, she announced “I can’t stand it anymore” so I wheeled her away and, in her nonverbal manner, she pointed to her room and then to her bed. With help she settled in and said she was grateful that I had finally brought her home. “How did you get me here” she asked and she insisted that she came by horse and carriage. “Thank you” she kept repeating as we kissed and held each other while she became peaceful and content. She had finally come back to where she belonged. At five o’clock the care worker came to take her to supper at her new home.


Lillian - August 13th, 2018

Lillian, my dear wife, has Neurocognitive Disorder. This has given me a whole new way of defining my existence. It has proven to be a painful but exhilarating turning point that gives the opportunity to learn the meaning of love. "I love you" has become the new mantra between us, hugs have become the way of demonstrating this love through out the day even as "the new normal" is redefined daily. This is the 24/7 way of life. I sympathise with those of you who are learning this lesson in your own way, but I am so grateful that inner resources and the love of family and friends are always at hand.

Lillian - September 17th, 2018

As Lillian changes from week to week, and sometimes from day to day, we are sad but often we both laugh at the "new normal" and I think of Leonard Cohen's words: "It's time that we began to laugh / And cry and cry and laugh about it all again".

Lillian - September 30th, 2018

On a beautiful Saturday we did a slow walk to the Corus Building, had a warm conversation with a student from Mexico and made a new friend, Rudi.

Lillian - October 28th, 2018

A few months ago Lillian was given her Ten Year pin at Princess Margaret Hospital. She had, as volunteer, been giving support, encouragement and snacks to cancer patients and their families and now, with her grandson, Dylan, escorting her, she went to the table to receiver her recognition for faithfully serving the patients. It turned into a transition from being a caregiver to becoming a dementia patient. Her memory of the cancer patients whose stories she had listened to over the years still sustain her while her memory of other things diminish. The pride she feels in having the love of her grandchildren with whom she shared many hours as the grew up, still nurtures her.

Lillian - November 19th, 2018

Lillian woke me early to share the joy of sunrise. I'll share some of the views with you.

Lillian - December 1st, 2018

We celebrated our 45th anniversary seventeen years ago at our beloved Whitepines of Northumberland Tree Farm. In contrast, today Lillian came home from a four-day stay at Mt. Sinai Hospital where she was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. It appears to be a quick moving illness with the ugly and unforgiving signs of Alzheimer's. When Cheryl gently brought her into the apartment today, Lillian and I once again sat on the familiar couch overlooking the harbour, the islands and Lake Ontario and she immediately fell asleep resting on my shoulder. She was home. We are surrounded by love, by caring people and an amazingly responsible family. We love them and feel loved by them.

Lillian - January 13th, 2019

Despite the cruelties of Vascular Dementia/Alzheimer's, Lillian still has a heart of gold. I have lunch with her several times a week at Baycrest and between feeding her and she occasionally feeding me, she reaches out to the lovely women at her small table, holds their hands and tells then she loves them. The warmth and the "I love you, too" that comes back to her makes everyone smile. Even the lady who's negative comments about everything usually casts a cloud over the group, becomes gentle and can finally respond with kindness. Lillian, the real Lillian, is still there and her love shows through the dementia haze. I love her.

Lillian - February 4th, 2019

Recently our thoughtful daughter, Cheryl, made an academic visit to Addis Ababa. She returned with a scarf for Lillian made by a group of women, former Wood Carriers, who had been given the opportunity to start a Weaving Collective. Also recently, Lily, our Parish Nurse at Yorkminster Park, gave Lillian a teddy bear, now named Willie. These two gifts are now Lillian's constant companions. She adores them...At the time of the visit by the Parish Nurse, Lily offered to read the 23rd Psalm. As she began, Lillian interrupted. A memory from 65 years ago returned to her through the deep, dark fog and frequent terrors of her dementia. A piece she had sung in the Elmwood choir so many years ago came back to her and she began: "The Lord is my shepherd", she sang in her now thin voice. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures..."

Lillian - May 11th, 2019

Lillian, now in the care of kind Baycrest staff, still leaves a path of kindness and love. She loves the visitors that appear, unexpected, at her wheelchair. She loves the fellow residents in her neighbourhood, and she feels the love of other people. She has certainly left evidence of her presence in her family and friends and, of course, around our home. Her colour schemes, her good taste is everywhere, particularly in her plants and flowers. Her light still shines.

Lillian - June 27th, 2019

Three years ago, Lillian and I gratefully celebrated our 60th anniversary, June 26, 2016. By mid-December of 2018, Lillian was admitted to Baycrest at a crisis point suffering from Vascular Dementia. The transition was harsh. With the support of our loving family and dear friends, we made it through the first six months. There have been a few bright spots. Lillian's love and kindness has shown through the dark, ever-changing fog of dementia. Last month a group of Baycrest residents, together with caregivers and family members, went on a picnic. I am reminded again of Bill Withers' words: Lean on me when I 'm not strong/ And I'll be your friend/ I'll help you carry on/ For it won't be long/ Till I'm gonna need/ A friend to lean on.