Beginning at the End:
Portraits of Dementia by Joe Wallace

© 2019 Joe Wallace

  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon

Dot Castellucci

xx

Dorothy Castellucci was born October 23, 1933. Dot’s father was in the Navy and she grew up in Virginia before moving to Reading, Massachusetts. She finished high school in Reading and spent a year at Framingham State University where she met Joe. Dot got pregnant and withdrew from school and married Joe. Together they had eight children.

 

Joe worked as a diesel mechanic at Thomas Ford in Beverly. Dot was fiercely independent and wanted her “own thing” – choosing to work as a maid at a few motor lodges in town. 

 

Joe ventured out on his own and started a truck repair business. Dot helped by keeping the books and being an assistant at the shop. Together, they ran the business for 26 years. Joe’s health deteriorated and they moved in with their youngest son, David. Soon thereafter Joe was diagnosed with water on the brain and passed away. 

 

Forever wanting her independence and to pull her own weight, Dot took a job at Toys “R” Us. For the next 15 years, she worked three nights a week to earn extra money and build an IRA nest egg that she is very proud of. Only when she broke her hip at 76 did she finally quit working.

 

Dot continues to live with her son David, his wife Lisa, and their seven children. David told me, “The first thing she tells anyone is ‘I have eight children!’ She is a fighter and always wants to be busy. She is giving and hardworking.” 

 

As Dot’s dementia progressed, she had a more difficult time doing the household chores she relished. Either having physical difficulty, or forgetting her tasks altogether. All of her grandchildren lovingly and patiently help or sooth her. David and Lisa moved her into a first floor bedroom and recently she has become confined to a wheelchair.

 

I asked Dave and Lisa how they manage it all - how they find the patience and compassion to give so much. They both responded with calm conviction, “Our faith is very important to us. God tells us to take care of all widows and orphans. We want to serve God and He commands us to do our best.”

 

As we ended our conversation, I considered the love and sacrifice Dot selflessly gave her 8 children. Her faith and conviction in no way diminished by dementia or time. Now, her son David and his family carry forward that faith and conviction, to selflessly give again and again. A blessing indeed.