Dementia is a condition that takes away the memory of its sufferers, often leaving them confused, isolated and lonely.
Gene McGehee from Vidalia, Louisiana was diagnosed with the illness several years back. His memory has been resetting every 15 seconds, and it has now progressed to the more severe form. Unfortunately, he cannot remember his own name.
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.
Every afternoon, the 92-year old meets several children from the nearby home daycare when he walks out to his front yard.
Mr. Gene is the name that kids affectionally call him. He was lonely before he met these children three year ago.
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.
Despite the age gap, the children have become friends with Mr. Gene and want him to be part of their fun. They would often play together, telling 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 area around eight years back.
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 ensures the children understand why Mr. Gene is like he is. They are so kind with him, even though they must reintroduce themselves every single day.
“We always tell the kids that his brain is kind of sick, but his heart remembers us,” she said.
Three years ago, Mr. Gene met Megan and her children every day.
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 Megan and Mr. Gene bonding on TikTok. Each video receives 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 legend, having played basketball and football at 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 testimony to the power and strength of friendship and love!
See Mr. Gene’s beautiful bond with his dear neighbors in the video below.
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