Pam White has had a great life: a mother to three healthy children, careers as both an actress and social worker, and a husband who adores her. She has every reason to be happy and grateful.
As she says herself, “There’s just one little glitch.”
Back in 2009, at the young age of 61, she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
Her son, Banker White, and his wife, Anna Fitch, moved back to the Boston area to help his parents after hearing of his mother’s illness. A filmmaker, he began recording conversations he had with his mother as she opened up about her changing reality. Banker continued to film the big and small moments the family shared while his mother’s disease progressed.
His efforts resulted in two compelling films: A Marriage to Remember, the 8 minute short featured below, and The Genius of Marian, the full length documentary broadcast last September on the PBS series POV.
The films bring to light more than just the heartbreaking truths that Alzheimer’s patients and their loved ones endure. As Banker explained in a New York Times Opinion piece, it shows how the disease itself has revealed, “the strength of my parents’ marriage, even as it alters their relationship forever.”
Now retired from his career in finance, Banker’s father Ed has dedicated himself to caring for his wife full time. The task is as difficult as it is humbling. While he struggles to meet the challenges of each new day he at heart knows the one impossible truth: it will only get more difficult as time goes on.
A former military man, his sense of duty and commitment as well as his love for his wife help give him the strength to carry on. The films are a tribute to their bond and both preserve and celebrate the memories they share as a family.