A native of Chicago, Illinois, Paul Bernstein built his legacy as an attorney. A graduate of DePaul Law school, Paul met his wife Dolores working in a firm where she was hired as a clerk. Before long, they fell in love and got married, blending their families of Dolores’ four children and Paul’s three, a second marriage for both. The children took to Dolores immediately, as did most people, according to Paul. “Dolores was a natural when it came to everyone she ever met, always taking a wonderful liking to her. I enjoyed making new friends with her even though those friends were much more likely to remember her name and not mine!” Paul was proud of the strength of their marriage, and it stood the test of time as they developed a life together in downtown Chicago. Unexpectedly, Dolores and Paul took in one of their grandchildren when she was around seven years old. Raising and caring for her for upwards of nine years, Paul and Dolores developed their own little family with their granddaughter. Dolores’ passion for dancing, playing piano, and violin was contagious and eventually rubbed off. “Dolores’ love of dancing caught on with our granddaughter, and we went on to live a great life and raise a super grandchild!”
Paul and Dolores’ marriage was full of love and life, improving every day even when it felt as though it couldn’t get any better. They both remained in good health while they raised their granddaughter, allowing them to enjoy all the experiences of life together as she grew up. As avid lovers of travel, they spent any free time they had seeing the world together. “Our life before the diagnosis was great and got greater with every day of our life together. This was a second marriage for both of us and we lived each day to the maximum.”
After 45 beautiful years together, Dolores was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia for which there is no cure. As her disease progressed, Paul terminated 98% of his law practice to become a 24/7 caregiver for his loving wife. A committed and adamant caretaker, Paul sometimes slept on the floor of their apartment in front of the door to prevent Dolores’ wandering out in the middle of the night. There were easy days and more difficult days, but Paul’s love and commitment to the love of his life never wavered in the face of adversity. “I cannot say I enjoyed every part of it, but it never gave me a reason to give up or not show the love of my life, that through the good and the not so good, how much I owed her for our loving lives together- and so whatever it took, I did!”
After two years of 24/7 care taking, Dolores and Paul were given a prognosis of about six months. Though it ended up being seven months, Paul appreciated the honesty and directness of the neurologist regarding the projection. “Honesty is the best policy. Undertaking this kind of responsibility takes honesty, sincerity, and willingness to try.” Paul remained by Dolores’ side until the very end. After 47 years of joy and happiness, Paul said goodbye to his loving wife. Though it was a difficult and sometimes painful end, he has no regrets about how he handled it. Taking time off work to focus on Dolores’ needs, making her comfortable and happy, was a commitment Paul stuck to with steadfastness. “I just cannot think about any life other than asking God that when I go, I end up in the heaven that Dolores is in, and that we live happily ever after… knowing we had a fantastic life together and would enjoy even more further on.” Though dementia is a powerful disease to battle, Paul’s commitment to his wife was unwavering and it is stories like these that solidify the Alzheimer’s Association’s pledge to find a cure.