I come up with far more ideas for personal projects than I’ll ever attempt to execute. In 2015 I took on a few (mostly in video) but this fall I knew I wanted to take on something different; something with a deeper, more personal meaning.
“Walter & Harriet” (printed book) is the fruit of a collaboration with my friend and colleague Heather McKay, MS/OT/L, who works with a local branch of Hospice and runs an organization that provides dementia care training for healthcare professionals, families and students. I contacted Heather to talk about working together to create something that supports her (incredibly important/difficult) work and is from the heart. Through her I met Walter and Harriet (last name withheld) and was granted a short window into the life of primary caregivers of dementia patients. It’s a circumstance I’m not altogether unfamiliar with, having had several family members with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Walter & Harriet’s story resonated with me for a lot of reasons- not least of which was Harriet’s lifelong passion for (and career in) music and Walter’s unwavering commitment to his wife’s care as she descends into dementia. A retired minister- Walter was kind, welcoming and forthright about the difficulties of being a caregiver. Harriet’s condition means she is only able to communicate in a limited fashion but her genuine spirit seemed to still be there. The short time I spent with the family was an honor and I hope that I was able to do some justice documenting the care and love that so many caregivers pour into their work. The book is hardbound at 30 pages, contains a short essay from Walter about his experience and 36 original photos. I had a very limited run made via Blurb for myself, Heather and the family. If there is sufficient interest I will make additional copies available.