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I have chosen the brightest, most twinkling button I could find, in memory of my father, Fred. He was a proud Naval officer, and in later life, a brilliant electronic engineer.

Fred had boundless energy and a truly indomitable spirit.

His later years were defined by his dementia and I became his principal carer. We had never experienced dementia in our family before, so we all had to undergo a very steep learning curve!

 When a loved one is afflicted by a mental illness, those who care for them are often left struggling to cope. Information and advice can be hard to come by, and those who care for them can be left feeling as though they are embarking on a bewildering journey … a journey without a map.

And as anyone who has had any experience of dementia will know, it is a roller-coaster condition. There are times of sadness and high drama …  interspersed with moments of sheer comedy.  One thing is for sure …. there is never a dull moment with dementia!

I have learned such a lot on this journey with my Dad.

One thing, and perhaps the most important thing, I’ve learned ….  is that dementia brings great gifts … as well as difficulties. My father could travel back and forth in time …  in the ramshackle Tardis of his mind. He spun fantastical facts from the broken pieces of his memory. This, to me, is a gloriously creative and anarchic gift.

Dad was cared for in later life in a specialist dementia unit. But my father was never content to submit to the comfy-cosy routines of care home life. He was too full of life, too plain stubborn and pig-headed. I’m happy to say that he ‘ran rings’ around the staff and certainly kept them all on their toes. He was very quickly banned from the garden after his frequent attempts to scale the wall!

And even until his final days, he was busy …. with plans and schemes for the future. This button reminds of the mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

Deborah Curtis

Bright as a Button