Boating & Memories – A story by Bob G.


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A story by Bob G., a reader who wrote in to Dementia By Day

My brother, Al, still lives on the south shore of Long Island, New York—Bellmore to be exact. He has round-the-clock attendant nursing available. My brother has Dementia with Lewy Bodies. He also has the classic Parkinson’s symptoms.

When working, Al always had the option of going out the front door to his day job or going out the back door to his boats. He owned a successful Special Effects business for the motion picture industry, and so he worked hard and played hard. Al was always a rabid sportsman: fishing, hunting, boating, etc. 

He was willing to traverse the East Coast or North America to find fish and game. He was always active in multiple boat and sporting organization on Long Island, too.

Now, as a retired but still strong-willed person, he is sometimes difficult to communicate with. I am also retired but when a friend asked me to help him as a consultant at a boat company, I agreed.

I called my brother one morning to see how he was doing, and he was less than cooperative until I mentioned the boat company.

All of a sudden he came to life and began to tell me the various advantages, options, and specifications of different types of boats. Al lit up and I began to hear a different perspective on things—it didn’t matter if I understood the particulars of the boats—HE DID! I couldn’t even get a word in edgewise as he was really enjoying our “conversation.”

I was brought to joyous tears knowing I was able to join him in a hobby he always loved.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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