Beginning at the End:
Portraits of Dementia by Joe Wallace

© 2019 Joe Wallace

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Ted Blazak

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Ted Blazak has an easy, infectious smile. He may not remember you or some of the conversations you’ve shared in the past—but he will be happy to see you and greet you warmly with a firm handshake. His parents, Joseph and Helen, were hard working Polish immigrants. When Ted was seven, his mother died of pneumonia. His dad never remarried, raising the family on his own. Ted worked hard like his father and joined the Air Force after graduating high school. After finishing his service in Germany, he came home and worked as an engineer at United Shoe Machinery Company in Beverly, MA. Ted lost his wife to breast cancer when he was 55 and, like his dad, he never remarried. Soon after her death, he took a job bagging groceries at Henry’s Market. He loved the work so much he stayed for 20 years - helping people in a tangible way and being an integral part of his community. I asked his daughter what Ted taught his children about life and she said “My dad is an honorable man. I never heard him curse. He never said anything bad about anyone. He came from nothing, but, for him, family always came first. He would tell you to have respect. Work hard and appreciate what you have.”