Father with Alzheimer’s walks Daughter down Aisle in fairy-tale Wedding Blessing ceremony
Most every girl dreams of their wedding day. The dress, the ceremony, and their father walking them down the aisle being some of the most special moments for a bride. In the case of Paulina Secory, Alzheimer’s disease stole that moment from her.
Paulina’s father, Mick Secory, now a resident at Perry Lutheran Homes, was diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 57 in 2015. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease happens to people who are younger than age 65. It is rare, and accounts for only five percent of all people with Alzheimer’s. Two years after his diagnosis in 2017, Mick moved into Perry Lutheran Homes, a senior living community in Perry, Iowa with a special focus on caring for men and women with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
As families of loved ones with memory disease do, Mick’s family continued to watch the cruel disease take hold. More and more memories lost and additional health worries appear. In the midst of this darkness, life continued to happen for Mick’s family. One recent bright light was the engagement of Mick’s daughter, Paulina, to fiancé Chace Chambers. Wedding planning began and a wedding date was set for April 29, 2022. But, buried in those happy moments was the realization that her father may not be able to walk her down the aisle. Mick’s health, due to Alzheimer’s disease complications, continues to decline at a rapid pace.
Mick is currently living in St. John’s memory care neighborhood at Perry Lutheran Homes King’s Gardens Campus. St. John’s memory care neighborhood is one of two, innovative and award-winning memory care communities focusing on life-skills stimulation and sensory-connected living. Paired with their person-centered IdentitE model of care, staff work to create special moments for each resident to give purpose and meaning, to reconnect with memories past, and to help them live and thrive and bring joy to the present. Perry Lutheran Homes staff build strong relationships with residents and their families; often-time becoming “extended family.”
“We appreciate you (the Perry Lutheran Homes team) so much for the care and love that you all have shown for Mick. You have never given up on him or any of your other residents. There are no words to describe how appreciative we are,” expresses Laura McAtee, Mick’s good friend, caregiver and former wife.
When the Director of Guest Experience at Perry Lutheran Homes, Tonya Swank, learned of Paulina’s engagement, she began thinking about how to help Mick be a part of that special moment that fathers dream of for their daughters. The idea of a wedding blessing ceremony in Perry Lutheran Homes beautiful chapel was presented to Mick’s family. And, with a resounding “Yes!” the planning began.
“It has been clear from Mick’s first day at Perry Lutheran Homes that he was a very proud family man. Over the past almost five years, we’ve gotten to know Mick and his wonderful family quite well. We’ve been blessed to witness Mick celebrate many life events with his family like birthdays, college send-offs, and graduations. When I heard that Mick’s daughter Paulina was engaged, I knew we had to make sure that Mick got to experience the moment he has been dreaming about since the day Paulina was born,” said Tonya Swank, Director of Guest Experience at Perry Lutheran Homes.
The special wedding blessing ceremony took place on Saturday, December 4 in the chapel on Perry Lutheran Homes Eden Acres Campus. Perry Lutheran Homes CEO and Chaplain, Rev. Max Phillips, lead the ceremony, and a team of staffers were there to help make the event special and memorable with flowers, music, refreshments and more. Mick and daughter Paulina had so many special moments that day; including the traditional father-daughter walk down the aisle. There were smiles, laughter and tears of joy. Although Alzheimer’s has taken over her dad, in those special moments, everything was perfect. Paulina had the dress, the ceremony, and most important of all, she had her father.
“This day meant so much to me. I have dreamt ever since I was a little girl to have my dad walk me down the aisle. Once my dad got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I didn’t think my dream would come true. God is truly so good, and I am so blessed that my dad was able to walk me down the aisle. This is a day I will remember forever,” shares Paulina Secory.
Perry Lutheran Homes, a not-for-profit senior living community, depends upon financial support from others to make these special moments possible. Please consider giving the gift of more special moments to residents and their families. Text the word “GIVE” to the number 515-320-8256. Make a gift online at https://perrylutheranhome.networkforgood.com/projects/148865-special-days-special-care-for-special-people. Or, mail a check to Perry Lutheran Homes, Attn. Sara Nefzger, 2323 Willis Ave, Perry, IA 50220. Learn more about Perry Lutheran Homes innovative and award-winning memory care communities at https://perrylutheranhomes.org/services/memory-care/.
Watch the touching wedding blessing ceremony in the video below!
Perry Lutheran Homes is your locally owned and managed, Christian Caring Community serving Perry and surrounding communities for 65 years. Perry Lutheran Homes offers innovative, personalized, Christ-centered living and care at three campuses in Perry, IA – Spring Valley Campus, King’s Garden’s Campus and Eden Acres Campus. Services include independent and assisted living, award-winning memory care, in-home care, respite care, skilled nursing care, rehabilitative therapy, intermediate and long-term care, end-of-life care and meals on wheels.