The book, Our Fine Romance, is the kind of love story that most will never know. Yet, this is the true story of the lives and love of Michael and Maureen Harbott.
Thirty years ago, Maureen started typing out her family history and tales of growing up in London, England during the Second World War. She encouraged Michael, who also spent his childhood in London, to do the same. So Michael, who couldn’t type at the time, wrote his contributions by hand and Maureen typed them out. Their collaboration took 12 years, then sat untouched for several years while Maureen’s symptoms of dementia progressed. Finally, Michael wrote the last chapter and immortalized their story in print.
“She never really knew that we had a book,” Michael says. “What a wonderful legacy to leave. It was an amazing achievement and I never thought I could do anything like that. If Maureen hadn’t started writing I never would have done it.”
Michael and Maureen are among the people affected by dementia who are being honoured at the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s this May. The online event is the largest fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of B.C., and, this year, participants are encouraged to walk their own way throughout May before joining together for an online celebration at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 30, streamed on the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Facebook page.
Maureen now lives in long-term care, with support from Michael, as well as their children and many grandchildren. Michael has been active in the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s caregiver support group in Tsawwassen, and has fundraised to help ensure others have access to the same support and education they do.
“When we started with this disease, there was quite a stigma,” Michael says. “People didn’t talk about it, but you can’t escape it. By being open, it draws other people to you.”
Funds raised for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s help British Columbians at any stage in the dementia journey by supporting the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s programs and services. To register for the event, participants can visit walkforalzheimers.ca, choose their local community and create a fundraising page to share with friends and family. No matter where or when they walk (in accordance with current public health orders), participants will make a difference in the lives of people living with dementia and their caregivers.
If you are affected by dementia, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help. Visit www.alzheimerbc.org to learn more.