Due to COVID-19, Forget-me-not are suspending get togethers temporarily.
We met on a beach in Cape Town on Boxing Day 1960 and having spent New Year’s Eve at a dinner/dance, with Jules and his friend consuming a bottle of whisky between them, he proposed, on another beach, on 1st January 1961.
I said YES.
We married in April that year.
March 2012 was when we moved to beautiful Perth, with fabulous beaches! living with our son and his family in rural Wandi.
Memory loss crept up slowly and we received excellent assistance from Alzheimer's WA and their "Living with Memory Loss" programme. When these monthly meetings came to an end, and having made great friendships, it was decided that we continue meeting.
Thus, the creation of Forget me not Memory Café Rockingham. Julius' 90th birthday was held on the opening of our Rockingham Café, with almost 50 people attending.
A roomful of laughter, caring and companionship.
Julius moved into the Maurice Zeffert Jewish Aged Care Home on the 27th of November 2019, where he was cared for with love and kindness.
He died peacefully in his sleep on the 27th of January 2020, a few months short of his 92nd birthday.
He lived a very full life, and died with no regrets.
Teenage sweethearts married at the tender age of eighteen, Michael and I were an invincible team raising three talented, successful and amazing children who are now married with families of their own.
However, all those years ago nothing could have prepared our family for the diagnosis received shortly after Michael’s 65th birthday in November 2015, when we were advised Michael had early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Looking back now I realise the sometimes out of character acts, forgetfulness and odd behaviour were not stress or tell-tale signs of getting older, but that of the disease slowly evolving and engulfing Michael’s brain.
As Michael’s condition progressed, I realised established friendships were changing, many people whom we regularly socialised with did not understand the diagnoses and we gradually began to withdraw from all social interaction.
We discovered there was a fair amount of information on Dementia, Carer Groups and workshops that I could attend to improve my understanding of this unforgiving disease and there was respite available for Michael as and when he would require it, but there was precious little that we could do together as a couple.
We began looking for somewhere we could socialise in a safe non-judgemental peaceful location. Somewhere to share a cup of coffee, to laugh and chat with others who are going through the same experiences as us, without feeling shunned or conspicuous.
A diagnosis of Dementia does not mean life is over, life is just taking a different path, but the journey may still be enjoyable and rewarding.
Forget-Me-Not Memory Cafés have grown from having just a couple of attendees at our first session 18 months ago to now welcoming up to 30 people each month. We have developed some amazing lifelong friendships; we are there for each other sharing the good times and shouldering the bad.
Peter and I are originally from Port Pirie South Australia, we met in 1964 in the town’s community swimming pool, Peter was 15 years old and already working, I was 14 and still at school. We married in 1970 and have just celebrated our 49thwedding anniversary. The move to Western Australia was made late 1972.
Peter worked driving heavy machinery in a cement factory on the Kwinana Industrial strip where he was mostly doing shift work. We have two great children of whom we are extremely proud, Peter was always involved with them, coaching the football teams, helping build neighbourhood playgrounds, barracking for their team at the netball/ basketball. When the four amazing grandchildren came a long he was in seventh heaven, always playing with them, talking with them and watching them at their sport.
1980 was the start of us going into the Nursery business and 6 years later we bought 5.5 acres and expanded the nursery, this grew into a small venture in commercial cut flowers and then morphed into Bridal Floristry, all the while Peter still held down his full time job.
Little by little things began to change, Peter who had always been kind and willing to join in everything was becoming much quieter and he began withdrawing, his whole demeanour was changing, even his wonderful smiles began to disappear, now he barely speaks, there is very little interaction with anyone, he just wants to sit on the couch. After more than a year of being treated for Depression, including 12 rounds of Electro Convulsive Shock Therapy he was referred to a Neurologist, finally a new diagnosis; Frontotemporal Dementia. Knowing this was a relief in many ways. I contacted Alzheimers to learn as much as I could and spent many hours on the internet looking for information and I then knew that we both needed to adapt our plans for the future. Everything I read stressed how vital it is to maintain social contact and by now we were already becoming isolated.
As we now travel a road that we never expected to see I know that we have friends at the Forget-Me-Not Cafes who truly understand what is happening in or lives, we can relax and enjoy ourselves, laugh and chatter, and perhaps we have helped someone else along the way.
Tony immigrated to Australia in 1968 and I came over in 1969.
Both Tony and I are from Ireland. We came out on the 10 pound flights as singles and within a month of me arriving in Oz, I met Tony at a dance at the Embassy Ballroom.
Even though we were complete opposites in personality, our common love of dancing lit the spark that ended up in marriage in 1971, and the arrival of two children soon after.
We have since been blessed with three lovely grandchildren - who Tony continues to enjoy watching them play their sports. Tony worked in construction and then we ran our own earthmoving business for over 40 years.
It was obvious in hindsight now that Tony started to decline in memory and cognitive ability once he retired. He used to be the life-and-soul of any party and would not hesitate to help anyone in need.
By 2015, he was starting to change, personality-wise. He withdrew from social occasions more, became frustrated easier, depression appeared and he was even starting to get 'lost' when he was driving. In 2017, Tony was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
In December 2018, I decided to contact Alzheimer's WA for social support for Tony. I found out about the 'Memory Cafe's' through a friend and have since made great friends there who understand the changes that are happening in our lives.