I have a passion for history. I am fascinated by the evidence of the past, who we are, who our ancestors were, the tools they used and how they lived. And the person who introduced me to this lifelong pleasure was my dad.
Dad began to show signs of early stage dementia in 2000. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and over the next nine years the man we all knew and loved became increasingly lost in a confusing world.
His last eighteen months were spent in a care home where his physical needs were well met but he could not communicate with his care staff beyond smiling. They would encourage him to undertake art activities and paint a picture but such activity had never been part of his experience. I began to take objects with me that I thought he would enjoy in an attempt to break the silence that now existed between us. I would watch him handle a piece of old Roman pottery and see his face light up with recognition. The physical contact with objects from the past still gave him great satisfaction and a sense of who he was – because loving history was part of him. And now we had something I could easily talk to him about and we could share the pleasure.
The memory kits that I now create are a response to that time with dad. I want to make sure that other people’s dad or mum, partner or friend are given the same opportunity to continue taking pleasure from the things they have always enjoyed, to encourage communication and to share the activity.