I’ll Remember For You
by Ansley Ward,
Blogger, Videographer, and Marketing Consultant
I’ll Remember For You® - Preserving the memories of those living with dementia…one heart-hitting story at a time.
There are some things in life that are your calling; things that you have been uniquely wired from the womb to do. Not only that, but you will encounter experience after experience on the road of life that will serve to prepare you for that calling. When I look back over my life, Alzheimers disease has played a major part in shaping who I am and who I am becoming. In middle school, I helped my grandmother take care of her mother who had dementia. During high school, I worked in a nursing home for people living with dementia. I loved it; it never felt like work. Years later, after starting my own family, my widowed grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, so my husband and I moved her in with our family and we took care of her for four years.
So, in 2016, when my friend’s sister, who had early-onset Alzheimers in her mid-50s, could no longer drive, I offered to help get her out of the house once a week. It might have seemed to be an odd pairing. I had been working in marketing and digital media for years, and now I was going to be driving my friend who had Alzheimers around a few days a week.
Mitzi and I would have had very little in common had we met in another part of our lives, but on the familiar road of Alzheimers, we could not have been more compatible. As she fought daily against a relentless disease that continually closed and locked the windows and doors of her mind, I was her sidekick, along with the tremendous support of her family and friends. Each day we had a bucket list of silly things to accomplish, all tailored to what her capabilities allowed so that she would feel valued, worthy, and useful. We went everywhere together until it became unsafe for her to be out of the house. I learned to finish her sentences and read her wants when words became her enemy. I was blessed beyond measure by Mitzi’s friendship and by watching her walk out her faith in every kind of uncertainty imaginable, all the way to the very end of her life here on earth. She passed away on September 23, 2019, just three weeks short of her 59th birthday. Mitzi’s strength, attitude, and character continue to inspire me daily.
Mitzi’s greatest hope was that some kind of redemption could come from her life’s most heartbreaking final chapter. She and her husband generously gave me permission to help be her voice to share her story with the world through a blog of our days that I started in 2018. Instead of leaving her brain to science for research, she wanted me to use her life to help show the world that an Alzheimers diagnosis does not have to mean the end of living. Her desire was that through that journal of her daily life and the challenges in the face of Alzheimers and dementia, that her story could bring encouragement and practical information to others who are living with the disease, both personally, or as a care partner or family member.
During our time together, as I documented Mitzi’s days through video and photos, I saw the positive ways family and friends began to reconnect with her and a new vision began to be born for my future after Mitzi. It has become my mission to help raise awareness about this incurable disease by recording the stories of those affected by it. Inspired by Mitzi’s courage in sharing her own story in the hopes of helping others, I’ll Remember For You has become a video project to help highlight the stories of those living with dementia and their care partners. Using my previous experience in videography and marketing, I now offer my services, free of charge, to those who are willing to share their own journey with the world. It is my sincere hope that someday, a cure for dementia will be found and the need for I’ll Remember For You will become a memory.
Ansley Ward is a blogger, videographer, and marketing consultant who lives with her husband and two sons in Florida. With a family history of Alzheimers and through her two decades of experience working and volunteering in memory care, Ansley understands the importance of using technology to preserve a person’s story, in their own words, and from those who know them best, before dementia makes that difficult.
For three years, Ansley was a sidekick to her friend Mitzi as she walked through early-onset Alzheimers, documenting Mitzi’s days through video and photos. Inspired by Mitzi’s courage in sharing her own story in the hope of helping others, I’ll Remember For You was launched in 2018. Ansley offers her free service to those willing to share their own dementia journey.