Beginning at the End:
Portraits of Dementia by Joe Wallace

© 2019 Joe Wallace

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Sue Black

Sue Black was born June 18, 1928. I could tell you about her 3 children, or life in Millers Falls, or the huge holiday gatherings she hosted every year, or camping by the river for the summer, or her best friend “Hot-Shot,” but I won’t do that. Let’s talk about her incredible spark instead. I knew our interview would be special from the moment she flashed her big smile and penetrating blue eyes at me. Zooming into the room behind her walker, Sue was clearly eager to break the imaginary nursing home speed limit. She didn't know who I was or why she was in the room, but she was so very alive and ready to engage with whatever we were up to. Sue calmly and patiently sat with her daughter Jaime and I for the interview. As Jaime and I talked for an hour, Sue would chime in when one detail or another sparked a memory. Sometimes an anecdote about Hot Shot or her husband, a memorable party, or “city-folk" objecting to the dog licking the icing off the cake. A particularly electric moment came when Sue and Jaime sang a favorite silly song together from many years back - filling the room and each other with elusive joy.