The See Me Project
Today’s family includes Katherine (Katie), her daughter Patsy and dog, Louie. Kaelin Branson is a professional photographer and niece who enjoyed photographing her family. She did a beautiful job of capturing special moments and certainly contributed to the creation of a beautiful experience for all of them.
About Your Loved One with Dementia
We share images and stories to honor and highlight your loved one. This part is required, however it is up to you how much detail you put in. Our missions are to honor your loved one and teach the world about dementia-including caregiving. Our vision is to see a more understanding, compassionate and kind world for those impacted by dementia. Your stories help others to understand.
Tell us something special about your loved one. This is your chance to highlight and honor them however you wish.*
Written by Patsy– The youngest of 3 children, born in Greenfield, Illinois. When Kate was 6 weeks old her Mother passed away. Her Father, now a widower with 2 small children and a baby, moved to Chester, Illinois where his parents lived. They lived on a small farm, mainly to grow their own food and vegetables. Her grandfather was a preacher and her grandmother raised the kids while her father worked as a finish carpenter.
They were very poor. That did not stop Kate from doing anything or going anywhere she wanted. She always loved animals and became friendly with the neighbors who had an old draft horse which Mom would steal and ride to town. Until the neighbor man said to Mom, “just ask and you can ride him anytime”. This kind of ‘nothing will stand in my way if I really want to do it’ stuck with her throughout her adult life. She met her true love in the summer of 1965. She was smitten with him the moment she saw him walk through her best friend’s living room fresh home from the army in a white T-shirt. That is how she has always told the story and still to this day. They were married in November that same year. They had two children and Mom was a homemaker while my dad traveled the construction work on the dams, from Libby, Montana to the Grand Coulee, Washington. They took on boarders who also worked on the dams… Mom made meals, packed lunches and did their laundry. The weekends were family time when the boarders went home to visit their own family’s. Once the kids were in school, Mom put her foot down and insisted on making roots in Sunnyside, Washington.
The young couple purchased a small piece of land with house, shop and barn. It was a dream come true for them. Soon the property was filled with animals and flower and vegetable gardens. She taught her children how to raise animals and vegetables for food just as she was taught when she was a child. She was Married 48 years to her true love which ended in 2013 when her husband took his own life right in front of her eyes. This is when we believe her first symptoms of ALZ began. Although, she was able to manage it on her own and after all she had been through hell. She is blessed with 5 grand children and 7 great grand children. She was an active part in her grand children’s lives when it came to teaching them the miracle of life while spending time on the family farm. From baby chicks, ducks, geese, kittens, goats, horses, cows and of course puppies.
Katie’s soul would come alive when she was in the mountains camping, especially with her friends. They would take the horses and trail rides were her favorite thing to do. She also lived hunting pheasants with her bird dog, and working outside in her yard and flower gardens. Her free spirit allowed her to become a self taught artist (with a little help from Bob Ross). She took in many requests to paint peoples animal portraits, painted on old saw blades, cow head skulls etc. Although she could spend her days painting she always said she was a starving artist so therefore she had to have a day or night job. Throughout the years she worked as fruit packer in the local warehouses, a nurses aide in a nursing home, a night shift cashier at a convenience store, a few jobs here and there until she landed her last job with the Toppenish Livestock Market where she worked as a brand clerk for over 25 years before she retired and become known as the “Goat Lady” in the valley raising and selling goats. This lasted until the ALZ set in and it was just too much for her to manage any longer.
She tended her chickens until they all passed away from old age. To this day she believes she still has chickens to tend to. Almost daily she goes out to the barn looking for eggs and checking to see if they need water. It is no use trying to stop her, if you try she will flat out tell you to “get the hell out of her way!” The fight in her is strong, it’s all she has left now.
Age of diagnosis or if not officially diagnosed, when the dementia became evident.*
Katie was 70 when signs of dementia were starting to occur. Officially diagnosed at age 72.
What 1-2 things do you want people to know about living with Alzheimer’s Disease or other form of dementia?
Katie’s answer: “I don’t know I never thought of that. People shouldn’t be afraid of you because you can’t catch it. I can’t think of anything else. Well, let us watch tv becuase it keeps us okay with someone talking to us. Keeps our mind going. People are talking and that keeps your brain moving. Patsy’s answer: “That it sucks more than I ever imagined. I’ve watched my mom transform into this other person who is unpredictable and confused. The person who was my rock is no longer there. The roles are reversed, I am her rock now.”
What has been the most challenging part of your Alzheimer’s/Dementia journey?
Katie’s answer: “Hmm… trying to keep up with what’s going on in the world today.” Patsy’s answer: “Just one?? Ha ha… well, that my love has been put on hold taking care of Mom. My husband and I rarely (I mean RARELY) get to do anything together. It certainly takes a toll on your marriage.”
What has been the best part of your Alzheimer’s/Dementia journey?*
Katies’s answer: “Geez.. I don’t know. Learning to accept it and live the best we can with everybody. Also that Patsy lives with me, which is a blessing.” Patsy’s answer: “My eyes have been really opened to this disease and I get to see her everyday cuz she loves with us.”
What else would you like us to know?*
Katie’s answer: “That it’s not something you can catch and don’t treat us like we have the plague.” (Patsy tells her that’s the last question and she pats her on the leg and says, “Thanks! Glad I could help ya!” She asks Patsy to turn the sound on the tv back up and is going on about how good tv is for people with dementia) Patsy’s answer: “It is tougher than it looks to care for someone with this disease. Most importantly, take each day as a new day because for the person with dementia, it is a new day for them… every single day.”
Mary Juanita Ayres says
Good explanation! Katie is my little sister, I live 3000 miles away & so happy she has a wonderful daughter with compassion, understanding & patience to take care of her. Also Patsy’s husband Allen shares the care of my sister. Katie could not be in better hands, not all children could do this!
Carmen Davailus says
Thank you! I love this so much! ❤️