Elia Luciani has been through many things in her life.
Having lived over 90 years, Elia has seen presidents come and go, wars start and end, and society drastically change through the addition of modern media. In the latter portion of her life, remembering all that she has experienced took on a whole new meaning when life took a dramatic shift, especially for her son, Tony Luciani.
One day as Elia was going about her life, she suffered a bad fall.
Breaking her hip in the process, Elia spent some time in the hospital recovering.
Tony hoped for the best, but upon her returning home he noticed that something had changed about her. She had become forgetful, and many things that she’d at one time easily been able to do had become much more difficult.
Elia was in the early stages of dementia.
“What she remembers most is when she was a little girl,” Tony explained to Upworthy. “She doesn’t remember what happened 10 minutes ago, but she does remember what happened 70, 80 years ago.”
Memories, the things that she so dearly cherished in her life, quickly began leaving her with increasing velocity. Tony had no idea what to do. As a full-time painter with a passion for the arts, his array of talents didn’t make him feel well equipped to really be able to help his mother in that special way other people can.
Or so he thought.
Tony took on the role of his mother’s full-time caregiver. While with his mother one day, Tony was using a mirror to take photographs when he realized she had been making faces behind him while in the frame.
“Then she jumped out in front and put her hands up in the air and started going ‘blah blah blah blah!’ and then waved,” Tony explained.
“And I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is so great.'”
Inspired by the moment, Tony finally came up with a way to help his mother. She seemed to enjoy when he would include her in his pictures, so he decided to use his talents in photography to help capture her memories in art. Tony wasn’t sure how much longer she’d even remember his name, but the two pressed on determined to spend as much time together as possible.
His mother loved their new shared hobby, especially when he’d humorously and digitally add her in to pre-existing pictures.
“It got to the point where I’d be painting and she’d come over to me and say, ‘OK, I’m bored. Let’s do some pictures,'” Tony went on to say.
Unfortunately, recently Elia’s condition has continued to deteriorate.
For Tony, he explains that though things are rough, he’s glad that he was able to make his mother forget her problems and for a time in the day be able to have some fun. That precious time is something he’ll always be grateful for.
“I want people to remember that ‘normal’ is relative,” he told The Huffington Post. “My mom’s ‘normal’ now is very different from her ‘normal’ 30 years ago. I hope this project with my mom will encourage others to truly see and develop compassion for their elders and not ignore, abandon or shut them out.
“We need to really hear them, not only for what they were, but who they are now. They are who we all will eventually become.”