Families of Memory & Movement Charlotte

At Memory & Movement Charlotte, we see families from all backgrounds and all walks of life. The conditions we treat are widespread and the numbers are growing, but until someone they love is diagnosed, many people don’t want to talk or think about Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Over the summer of 2023, two high school interns led a photo-essay project called Families of Memory & Movement Charlotte. Inspired by Humans of New York, the project's goal was to portray the vitality and diversity of families living with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and break some of the stigma surrounding these conditions.

All the families portrayed below have given MMC permission to share their photos and stories in connection with this project.

Making art is a creative form of self-expression with unlimited freedom, but becoming an established artist is a title few earn in a competitive market.

Connie Williams has drawn and painted since childhood, and against her father’s advice she pursued a career in art. When her work was first accepted by a gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, other doors opened. Her work was soon shown in six galleries, she began teaching art classes, and she traveled with her students to France many times over the years for art workshops.

On the side, Connie ran an antique store with items from France, Italy, and England as well as local craftsmen. She even hired her father to work with her!

Today, Connie sells paintings with help from her personal assistant Kimberly Brown. A close friend, the love of Connie’s son, and a former hospice guide for Connie’s husband, Kimberly manages Connie’s marketing efforts and helps with workshops. After decades in the art world, Connie firmly believes in letting go of perfectionism, finding beauty in the learning process, and being happy with the final product.

Even today, she is still learning new techniques and experimenting with different tools and subject matter. Each piece is finite, but the creative exploration of mastering art has no end.

Gwendolyn Krueger and Kelli Rapp look like best friends, but they are really mother and daughter.

Originally from Wisconsin, Gwendolyn moved to Charlotte with Kelli, and the two share many personality traits and interests. Even little things like eating dinner together or binge-watching Netflix shows can brighten their days.

Gwendolyn enjoys reading, especially romance books, and Kelli picks up each book as soon as Gwendolyn finishes it. The pair jump into lighthearted conversations about the world of the stories and the mental images they generate. Gwendolyn and Kelli are a positive duo, and most of their time together is spent laughing.

Putting others first is a lesson Gwendolyn instilled in Kelli, and they care deeply for each other and their children. Distance between family members does not keep them apart—they visit the rest of the family in Wisconsin on holidays, and if anyone is facing a problem, they all gather over FaceTime, email and text to make decisions together. Through good times and difficult moments, nobody is alone.

David Mayo and Page Renger traveled the world to find each other.

David’s father taught him that the best education is travel, so after college he earned a master’s degree in international business. David and his wife loved the movie Around the World in 80 Days, and it inspired them to see the world. David’s job sent him to Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Brazil, and throughout Europe for 25 years. Over that time, he learned three languages and immersed himself in many cultures.

David’s wife died in 2006, and friends introduced him the following year to Page, who lost her husband in 1997. The two have been dating since they met, and they share a passion for travel. Some of their favorite trips have been to South Africa, China, and cruises to the Mediterranean and to Greece and Turkey.

Because no two destinations are the same, the couple never tires of traveling. They have made friends all over the world and formed bonds with fellow travelers. Of course, the closest connection is to one another.

Arnold and Gerry Pope’s good nature can best be encapsulated by a cedar box roofed with a folded license plate. A home for birds.

Arnold’s knack for woodworking began when he was a teenager taking classes for the craft. Decades later, he keeps up with the hobby in his backyard workshop. After constructing each birdhouse’s four walls with cedar, a durable wood he claims will last forever, he tops the creation with a discontinued license plate delivered by his son-in-law who is a policeman. Tin roofs, Arnold explains, last a long time and add character. To add a personal touch, each house is topped with a license plate from the home state of the recipient.

Nature also has a home in their hearts. Arnold and Gerry enjoy sitting outside on their covered deck in a sky chair, watching the many birds, squirrels, and deer that visit their yard. Gerry walks a few miles each day to rejuvenate herself surrounded by the outdoors. Each year, the couple heads to Twin Falls State Park in West Virginia to relax in nature with their family. Arnold, Gerry, their children, and their grandchildren rent neighboring cabins to camp and spend time together in front of a campfire.

Arnold and Gerry believe in lasting connections, from the love for their family to a birdhouse of cedar and tin.

Not many families can say they have hosted more than 27 foreign exchange students, but this is the norm for Carol and Eugene Barreau.

The couple met on a blind date at a “greasy spoon” near Purdue and have been together ever since. Growing up in the multicultural city of Washington DC, Carol majored in education and Spanish language. Carol and Eugene were sent to France and Germany for the Army ROTC in which Eugene was enlisted, so Carol took French classes.

Traveling with the Army unleashed a desire to know more people from around the world, so they opened their arms and their home to students who were seniors in high school from many European countries. The Barreaus brought the students to Washington DC, watched American movies, and went skiing. The family had so much fun hosting that their own son decided to become an exchange student in Austria. Today, he is a global director of contact lenses and eye materials for Johnson & Johnson.

Carol and Eugene’s relationships with the students have endured. They developed friendships with the parents and grandparents of their exchange students, and they have visited many in their home countries. Watching so many students mature over time—in the US and at home—and staying in touch with them has been a joy that enriched the lives of all involved.

Joe and Julie Henry feel that helping others is their calling.

The two met in college in a law enforcement program. After graduation, Joe worked for a security company, moved to teaching criminal justice, and later became a private investigator. Improving people’s lives has always motivated him. He has conducted surveillances for people with wayward spouses and ensured they were financially stable following a divorce, found runaway children, and reconnected adoptees with their biological parents.

Julie never used her law enforcement degree and instead worked in college libraries. However, her law enforcement mindset is very much intact—the couple watch murder mysteries together and race to solve the case.

Both believe strongly in serving God by serving people and that even a small act can make a difference in someone’s day. They are active in their church, and before retirement, they ran the church nursery three times a week. Joe is a deacon and calls, writes, and visits homebound individuals with Julie and gifts of candy. The couple also helps at funeral homes and is training their puppy to be a therapy dog just like their last dog who accompanied them on visits to nursing homes.

The Henrys have instilled a commitment to volunteering in their two sons, and the family is always ready to help someone in need.

The Haughey and Gardner family wakes up everyday with a love for learning. From a young age, before they even knew what each letter meant, each of Charles and Barbara’s children had a book in front of them, listening as their parents read along. Barbara says she brought home books and started reading to her children before buying diapers.

Reading has carried them far already—today their daughter Eleanor and granddaughter Rachel read for pleasure, and every family member has earned an undergraduate and additional degree. The family jumps on any opportunity to expand their knowledge, through traveling, playing games together, or doing puzzles.

Charles, Barbara, Eleanor, and Rachel put thought into everything they do. Their home is well-organized, schedules are planned ahead, and they handle interactions with patience to avoid arguments. The family’s love of learning and growing helps them handle life’s curveballs.

It may seem impossible for the same family to define themselves as both native Charlotteans with over two centuries of history and first-generation Americans…but both are true for the Lindstedt family.

Barbara’s family still owns a strip of land her ancestors bought from the king when the Charlotte area was first opened to settlers. Roy lived in Shanghai, China during World War II on the wrong side of the war occupied by the Japanese. When he moved to the US at age 11, he brought his father’s Swedish culture.

Barbara and Roy both traveled the world. After college, Barbara joined the Peace Corps and taught school in Uganda for two years. During that time, she visited many countries in Europe and Asia. Roy performed with a singing group in 40 different countries and was an Army aviator in the Vietnam War.

Back in the US, Barbara’s local group of teachers was viewed as too radical, so Roy, a labor negotiator by then, was sent to quiet them down. Despite their political differences, Roy supported Barbara and helped her win the presidency of the American Federation of Teachers. They decided to build a life together, and today their two children, Max and Carrie, both work in education.

Healthy debate and backing up claims is central to the family in the classroom and at the dinner table. They question and push each other to analyze their logic and consider everything from multiple angles.

The one thing they never question is their family. They attend family reunions with relatives around the country and proudly maintain a solid connection to their roots and to each another.

Rachel Hewitt and Eric Whiteside prove it is never too late to find love.

Rachel was a proud, independent working woman when the women’s rights movement was beginning. Combining a passion for art with her tendency for organization, she enjoyed a career as a freelance graphic artist for advertising agencies.

Eric wanted to live overseas for a year, and he thought teaching was a job he could manage, so he taught in Haiti. When he returned to the US and got his master’s degree, he became an English teacher at the Northwest School of the Arts.

Rachel’s sister taught there too, and she introduced the pair because they are both tall: Eric is 6’4’’ and Rachel is 6’2’’. Their shared sense of humor and opposite personalities—Rachel being aggressive and Eric being laid back—attracted them to one another, and they married in their mid-thirties.

Two independent adults set in their ways inevitably encountered challenges as a new couple, but they both deeply appreciate the life they have built together with maturity and experience. The couple celebrates the anniversary of their first date every year, and Rachel engraved a brick with the date so they never forget.

The Miller family stays connected through time, distance, and pandemic.

John grew up in the Congo with his father who was born there and his mother who grew up in China. Eleanora moved a lot because her father was in the Navy and both her parents relocated to continue their educations, so she lived in 17 houses across 7 states, Japan, and New Zealand.

Eleanora’s grandmother taught in the Congo at the school for missionary children, and John was one of her students. When John and Eleanora both found themselves at Davidson College, her grandmother made sure they met.

The couple has passed their diverse cultural traditions on to their children, and their home is filled with family heirlooms from the Congo and China. They still support the hospital John’s parents founded in the Congo and are always looking for ways to help. The Millers visit family scattered around the country and the globe, and they have family reunions with siblings, children, and grandchildren.

The Millers also love to play games. Board games—competitive and cooperative—bring them together. During the pandemic, family members in different places played games over video calls. Each household used two phones: one focused on themselves and the other at the game to prevent cheating.

Some traditions are seasonal. At Christmastime, the Millers’ daughter Sophie and her cousins set off Eleanora’s mother’s large collection of wind-up toys all at once. Hanging ornaments on trees has been a tradition ever since John wove palm branches into chicken wire for Christmas in the Congo. At home, John and Eleanora use their green thumbs to run a community garden for every season. 

Tom and Holly Lightvoet first crossed paths while following their faith. They met in college at a campus ministry, and their shared beliefs drew them to each other.

Speaking in front of a crowd of 200 people seems daunting to most, but not to Holly. For 26 years, she taught a Bible study for women, setting aside other interests to prepare 40-minute talks 30 weeks each year. Her words have touched many, helping married couples resolve conflicts and inspiring others dealing with loss or terminal illness to rediscover purpose. For Holly, hearing the women’s stories fulfilled her. Today she participates in a smaller Bible study.

Tom mentors young men through difficult times and marriage problems. A son of divorced parents, Tom wants to prevent any child from dealing with the pain he experienced.

Tom and Holly’s three children and ten grandchildren are the center of their lives, and they especially love reading with their grandchildren.

Their faith still guides every decision they make. They begin each morning with a devotion in which they read passages from the Bible together, side by side as they have always been.

Sharing family traditions with their children and grandchildren is important to Rick and Janice Carter.

Rick’s mother sent him to piano lessons as a child, and it stuck. Although Janice never took lessons, she was drawn to the piano because her parents both played. When their daughter Amy came along, they signed her up for piano lessons. She enjoyed playing and passed the skill down to her daughter Louisa, who plays nearly every day for family and friends. They have all played on the same ivory-keyed piano Rick learned on over 60 years ago, and it has moved with them to many homes over the years.

The family plays a wide variety of music from different ages, switching between modern hits, songs Rick and Janice grew up with, and pieces from the 1800s. Every year at Christmas, the family gathers to sing carols around the piano.

The Carters also fulfill their love for history by visiting art museums and historic houses, such as Monticello. Rick and Janice’s family has a way of casting new light on things from the past, making traditions timeless.

Richard and Patricia Markel thrive on adventure—whether it be exploring ancient sites in Greece or simply trudging through the woods.

They grew up very differently. Patricia never ventured far from her working-class neighborhood, but Richard has always traveled. He opened her eyes to the world.

Richard introduced Patricia to backpacking, which felt to her like playing in the woods when she was little. Though backpacking was the most difficult physical activity she had ever completed, it was the most rewarding accomplishment in her life, and comradery with fellow hikers helped them reach their goals. The most special part of the Markels’ journey was seeing places that can only be discovered on foot.

Once they became expert backpackers, the couple began leading beginner groups with the Sierra Club on hikes. When Richard and Patricia started traveling for work and accumulating frequent flyer miles, their hikes expanded around the world. Hiking in Hawaii on the island of Kauai is their favorite destination so far. As they got older, backpacking became harder on their knees, so they stopped at Bed and Breakfasts along the way.

Over the years, they have visited 32 countries and hiked a combined 700 miles. Their children have sometimes hiked with them, and now their grandchildren are just as adventurous as they are. The Markels will never lose their wonder for the world, and they are thrilled to pass it on.

When life gives lemons, Phil and Lyn Dershem believe in second chances.

They both experienced hardships when they were in their thirties—Phil was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Lyn’s parents died in a plane crash. The couple worked through these challenges together and emerged stronger.

They have raised a son and a daughter and wanted to give back to someone else. Lyn’s brother had adopted a child from Russia, and the Dershems decided to do the same to fill their empty nest. They adopted a brother and sister 9 and 11 years old, and 20 years younger than their first set of children. The family struggled for a few months with language barriers, boundaries and school adjustments, but they found a way. Lyn’s niece from Russia helped translate, and they discovered a Russian-born teacher at the school Phil taught at who attended medical appointments with them. Watching Disney movies in English also proved a success.

Today the children speak primarily in English and the family has always maintained a positive attitude, even when life gets tough. Taking a leap of faith and trusting in the process has resulted in a happy, rewarding life for them all.

Bill Bost is remembered by his granddaughter, Maggie Hamilton.

A police officer, Bill displayed strength and integrity every day. He stayed true to his opinions and beliefs yet shared them with kindness. His gentle manner extended to the animals he kept in his barn and came in handy when a loose bull returned to the sound of his call.

As Bill’s only grandchild, Maggie considers him a second dad. They shared a sense of humor, and she can hardly recall doing anything without him. He would pick her up at the bus stop and take her to the country store to buy Cheerwine slushies and Butterfingers. They would spend an hour driving around in the car just talking, and then he would help with her homework. Bill took Maggie to the sheriff’s office to see the lab and get her fingerprint taken. With the mind of a detective, Bill assembled puzzles with the whole family.

Bill thought critically about everything, which is how he found his saying, “Every day is a good day.” If someone in the family was having a hard time, he would ask if it was truly not a good day or if it was simply a bad moment affecting the rest of the day. Today, Maggie, her mother, and her aunt and uncle keep these words hanging in their homes.

Maggie left college to care for her grandfather at the end of his life. She now works at First Bank and cherishes the time she spent with him. Through it all, Bill has shaped the person Maggie is today.

The Fayed family spends a lot of time cheering each other on.

Gerry and Linda Fayed met through their college roommates, who were also dating. Their friends’ relationship did not last, but Gerry and Linda have been together ever since.

Both love sports. Gerry played football and baseball in high school, which he feels prepared him for the competition of jobs in the real world. He worked for the FBI, and the family was transferred often and lived in five different locations. Gerry used his competitiveness to make cases against people fighting the law. Linda’s father played basketball at the University of Missouri, and growing up around sports taught her how to win and lose. Their oldest son played basketball at Winthrop, so they attended many games. With all of their grandchildren involved in sports, most of their time is spent in the arena.

Linda enjoys the social aspect of games and meets people at every event. Competitiveness runs in the family, and they play cornhole together for fun. However, teaching their children and grandchildren that winning is not the most important part is the greatest lesson of every game they play.

About the Interns:

Jaya Iyer is a rising senior at Charlotte Latin School, and her father Dr. Sanjay Iyer is the medical director at MMC. Jaya is interested in writing and journalism, and she led interviews and wrote short essays to accompany each family's photos.

Elias Lopes is a rising senior at Carolina International School. His mother Heidy Noble is MMC’s Clinical Administrator. Photography is just one of Elias’ creative interests, and he is exploring career paths that will use his skills. Elias took the photos for this project, edited them, and selected the featured photos for this website.