June 29, 2013

Memories to Cherish: Dealing with Dementia - Ruth L. Snyder

This week has been an emotional one for me: the last week of the 2012-2013 school year for my own children, celebrating high school graduation with one of my nieces, and moving my parents into a senior's facility. This was a new phase for me on the roller coaster of dealing with my father's dementia. Those who've walked down this road with loved ones understand what it's like - skills and personality inexplicably dissolve before my eyes, turning him into a shell of the person he once was. My Dad, once a confident leader whom the africans nicknamed "Big Bull Elephant," acts more and more often like a lost child. But some memories are there, for both of us, to cherish.

In the process of packing, we came across black and white photographs which became a doorway into those precious memories. My Dad was a printer by trade, and one of his  hobbies was photography. He not only knew how to take incredible pictures, but he was also a master at developing them. Growing up in southern Africa as missionary kids, my siblings and I spent hours sitting very still while Dad took hundreds of pictures in game reserves, villages, and wherever else we happened to travel. We spent many more hours with Dad in his makeshift dark room (usually in our bathroom), where we watched with delight while pictures magically took shape before our eyes. Once, Dad even filled the bathtub with chemicals so that he could develop a large rendition of a glorious african sunset he captured.

Although it is difficult to watch the Dad I know disappear, I am thankful for many things:
  1. The godly example my Dad set for me. He not only taught me about Jesus, but he also modelled Jesus for me.
  2. Many happy memories I have of times with my Dad - family holidays, playing table games, going fishing, camping.
  3. The love of photography passed on to me by my Dad.
  4. Many years with my Dad and the privilege of watching him grow old. I know many people do not have this privilege.
  5. This life is not all there is. One of my Dad's favourite songs is, "When we all get to Heaven." 

I have some of these treasured times in picture format. I hope you enjoy a small glimpse of the memories I have because of my Dad.

A home-made lathe used to carve beautiful wooden candlesticks

A closer look at the candlestick

It's a two-person job - one turns the lathe while the other carves

The eldest lady we met - 104!

Making flour!

Ruth L. Snyder

Ruth was privileged to spend the first 10 years of her life in southern africa where her parents were missionaries. She now lives in northeastern Alberta with her husband, Kendall and their five children.


  1. I was fascinated to see the pictures and find out about this aspect of your life, Ruth. Also, the post brings back many personal reflections since both my mother and my mother in law suffered with dementia and passed on relatively early because of it.

  2. Amazing photographs and a treasure to cherish. I'm sad at the indignity of aging, but so glad with you that this is not the end.

  3. How wonderful that you have such good memories of your dad as he was in his earlier years. My dad had Alzheimer's too. My heart goes out to you, Ruth.

    Dad loved the old hymns and gospel songs about heaven. We'll see our dads again, "When we all get to heaven." That will be quite a day of rejoicing.

  4. Thank you, ladies, for your encouraging comments. Those of us who are believers definitely do not grieve as those who have no hope. Heaven looks better all the time!

  5. Such a moving post Ruth.
    I'm sorry that you and your father are going through such a tough time, it's not easy but as you say, there are still many things to be thankful for and memories to cherish.
    I hope you don't mind, but I've shared this post on on our facebook page. We're a website for collecting, organising and sharing memories privately, and are currently discussing how our website (hiyalife.com) could be used aid support and care for Alzheimers and Dementia sufferers - your writing sums up the power memories possess beautifully!

  6. Sabrina, I'm honoured that you are sharing my writing. Thanks for stopping by, and for what you are doing to help others who are dealing with mental decline.

  7. Lovely, Ruth. Makes me treasure the days I have still with my 87 year old poppa bear. What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. Sounds like he was a wonderful man/father.


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