Spokane couple keeps memories alive amid Alzheimer's diagnosis

Local couple keeps memories alive while dealing with Alzheimer's

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The power memories can have is really amazing. 

"He asked me for a date," Dorothy 'Dot' Seim recalled with her husband. "And I said, 'I gotta go check my book.'  I didn't want to say 'Yes yes yes!' But, in my heart, I was saying 'Yes yes yes!'

"So, we went out.  And, when I got back I told my classmates that was who I was going to marry."

"Her father was the hard one," husband David Seim said smiling. "She was easy."

Spoiler alert: David and Dot's father got along very well, and he did get his permission to marry Dot.

David had a lot in common with his father, too. They shared a birthday. They shared a love of people. They shared a love of travel.

"We would get in the car, and my dad would grip the wheel," David said. "It didn't matter if it was the middle of the winter--on roads they would close today--he would grip the wheel and hold it until we got to our location."

David said his family traveled all the time, practically every three-day weekend they had. That makes for a lot of great memories.

But, there are some sad memories, too.

"In his mid-50s, he began to be more quiet, and more disassociated with what was going on around him," David told me of his father. "Alzheimer's was kind of never talked about, pretty much unknown at that time. It was really hard."

By the end, after they had watched his decline day after day, David said he was ready for his dad's passing.

"We were praying that God would take him home, because there was no more value in him being here," David said. 

Given his feelings about his dad's passing, it might seem surprising that David described a sense of relief when doctors spoke with him years later, and told him he had one more trait in common with his late father.

"When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's finally, it was very positive for me because I knew it was happening," David said. "I had known it for a number of years. I had actually retired early because of it.

"When you reach the point where you are fully committed to the fact that you have Alzheimer's, you can begin to reach beyond that point."

Both David and Dot said the connections made through the Alzheimer's Association have given them a sense of assurance and calm as they journey this path together.  David is now participating in an experimental treatment, and he and his wife are making memories with their whole family while they still can. 

"Every single one of our kids and our grandchildren--18 of us now--were all at the Alzheimer's race.  That was really meaningful to us," Dot said.

Both spoke of Alzheimer's, and the tough years ahead, with calm and grace, which they ultimately attribute to their faith.

"The truth is, our calmness comes from our confidence in Jesus Christ," David said, his wife nodding. "The moment my life ceases, I'll be in his presence.  And without that, it would be a lot harder."

To learn more about the Alzheimer's Association, and the services available, you can visit their website. 

© 2017 KREM-TV


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