Dementia is a disease that robs its sufferers of their memories, often leaving them confused, isolated, and lonely.
Gene McGehee of Vidalia, Louisiana, was diagnosed with the condition several years ago. It has progressed to the severe type, with his memory resetting every 15 minutes. Sadly, he can barely remember his own face.
Despite this, Mr. Gene is one lucky man, for he is surrounded by people—both at home and in his community—who genuinely love him.
When the 92-year-old steps out to his front yard every afternoon, he meets a bunch of kids from the home daycare across the street.
Mr. Gene, as the youngsters like to call him, used to be lonely, but when he met these children three years ago, it changed his life.
Now, he goes outside every afternoon—not even remembering what for—but he knows in his heart that something wonderful will happen when he does.
Regardless of the age gap, the children have befriended Mr. Gene and want to include him in their fun. They would often play together and tell stories.
Mr. Gene, who always has a big smile for everyone, has also become good friends with the kids’ teacher, Megan Nunez. She moved into the neighborhood around eight years ago.
Although Mr. Gene doesn’t remember ever meeting her, Megan remains patient and friendly with the lovely man.
“Every day I cross the street and we meet again,” she said.
Megan also makes sure that the children understand why Mr. Gene is the way he is. They are so gracious with him, never minding that they have to reintroduce themselves every day.
“We always tell the kids that his brain is kind of sick, but his heart remembers us,” she said.
Every day for three years now, Mr. Gene has been meeting Megan and the kids for what he thinks to be the first time.
His daughter, Cathy, said that being friends with the daycare kids brightened her father’s life.
“Oh my goodness, they have been such a blessing to daddy. And he lights up,” she said.
When CBS News’ Steve Hartman asked Cathy if Mr. Gene remembers that it’s going to be a “joyful thing” when he goes outside, she said:
“Exactly. Because it’s love. And, you know, everybody responds to love.”
Megan often shares clips of them bonding with Mr. Gene on TikTok, with each video garnering thousands of views.
One clip shared tidbits of Mr. Gene’s life before he was diagnosed with dementia.
Megan shared that he was a baseball referee for 20 years because he’s always loved kids—which could explain why he was so good with her students. He was also a local sports legend who played football and basketball for Natchez High School.
Dementia may have taken away Mr. Gene’s memories, but plenty of people are willing to create new ones for him every day. His story is a testament to the power of love and friendship!
See Mr. Gene’s beautiful bond with his dear neighbors in the video below.
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Sunday 22nd of May 2022
As a nurse who has worked with these types of patients, this is such a heart warming story, brought tears to my eyes
Monday 18th of April 2022
Thats so sweet God b lesss the children and him to have this special time together