This is a story about my grandparents Else and Poul, whom I’ve been photographing for the last three years.
In 2011 Poul got diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and Dementia. But already in the years before he had symptoms that is associated with the diseases, such as bad memory, difficulties concentrating and lack of sense of time and place. In the end, he could not recognize faces of people close to him. Poul was 83 years and Else is 84 years. They were married for 57 years.
Dementia is developing differently depending on the person. Poul became slower and more unbalanced physically and mentally over the past few years. Else used to lock all the doors in their house, to prevent Poul from walking out at night.
"Poul was a lieutenant when i was a nurse at the hospital in Randers. Then some friends of mine invited me to the barracks for dinner, and then there was Poul... Well, then we started seeing each other… That was it.”
"One day he was brushing his teeth, when he said to me: I can't control the toothbrush... And then it started. All the loses. So many loses. Whenever we met with friends, he would ask them their names.”
For a long time Else took care of her husband in their home. In July 2016 he moved into a local nursing home to relieve Else. She visited him every day.
At the nursing home they had a voucher system so the patients could get a bath once a week. At this point Poul was too sick, so the morning routine was done while he was lying in bed.
Else talking on the phone with a girlfriend about Poul’s situation. She often felt depressed and once she started seeing a psychologist, but didn’t think that helped.
Wedding, July 1, 1961.
“Poul was in Copenhagen and I was in Randers. So, we met in Aarhus Saturday noon and got married Saturday afternoon. The pastor escorted us to the alter. There wasn’t even any organ music. It was a small wedding.”
"Sometimes we had small moments where we could reach other.”
When the nurses told Else, that Poul could die soon, she stayed with him all the time at the nursing home, sleeping on a mattress next to his bed. Poul died April 9, 2018.
“You keep loving each other… No matter what, no matter sickness… He was my husband. We’ve been together all life, we were supposed to be together until we couldn’t anymore.”
”We’ve had a wonderful life without any sorrows. It has been great. We’ve travelled a lot and got to live together for so many years, and the last few years has been hard but also filled with love.”
”It was hard all those years, when he started getting sick and loosing his abilities. Especially when he was still aware that he was sick. But in the middle of everything he could suddenly say ‘I love you’. And then I was all done.”
One week after Poul died Else celebrated her 84th birthday. She lives alone in their house and plans to stay there.