By Jack Williams
In this tear-jerking video, an unsuspecting father breaks down when he is read the comments from online well-wishers who had followed his struggle to deal with his wife’s dementia.
After attempting to cope with the disease for years, Timothy Heath’s wife, Jacquie, passed away at the age of 59 last week.
Timothy’s son, Jake, had been documenting the family’s struggles on the popular site Reddit since 2014, and, unbeknownst to his father for most of the time, received thousands of comments across social media platforms and publications in the process, praising Timothy’s love and dedication towards his wife.
In the video, Jake, 33, first shows Batemans Bay, New South Wales, resident Timothy, 56, the images that he put on Reddit, which show his father struggling with day-to-day care of a wife who increasingly didn’t know him anymore.
Jake, his voice cracking, then began to read out comments from internet users to his father, including: “I rarely cry reading things; today I have,” “She must have been a wonderful woman – your dad is a saint,” and “Your father is a giant among men.”
During the reading, Jake and Timothy begin to cry, as does Jake’s sister, Zoe, who is off camera.
Jake, 33, who lives in Sydney, Australia, said: “I had a good long cry.
“Looking back now, I wish I had dug up more.
“There were literally hundreds that I could’ve brought up over the course of the past few years, calling him out for what he has done.”
Jake saw his initial documentation of his mother’s illness go viral in 2015, when he released a series of images to show how Jacquie had become a shell of her former self – she lost her ability to walk, speak, eat solid food and recognize those closest to her.
A loyal group of followers and general readers tracked Jake’s photographic documentation of his mother’s early onset dementia – a journey he also covered in written form by releasing a title called “Always Remember This.”
The toughest part of their family’s 10-plus-year struggle with his mother’s disease, Jake said, was “the constant inability to reconcile the fact that ‘she’ isn’t here anymore, while her body still was.”
Through sharing his parents’ story, Jake hopes to raise awareness for the disease and encourage others to be willing to tell their stories.
His father’s story, he said, shows that unconditional love still exists, even in the darkest of times.
Jake said: “He’s an incredible man.
“He doesn’t see it, though – he had worked tirelessly for years, never failing mum.
“He took his vows seriously, in sickness and in health.
“Looking after mum became so routine to him that he didn’t see how he was inspiring others.
“At this stage, losing that routine is probably the hardest bit for him.
“He’s got all this freedom that he hasn’t had for years and years.”