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87-year-old man does something incredible to connect with his Alzheimer's-aflicted wife

Posted July 20

As the old adage says: You're never too old to learn something new.

That's a concept that 87-year-old Jerry LeSeige of Jacksonville, Florida, is proving more than true after he recently picked up a woodworking hobby and decided to build a detailed miniature cathedral.

But it's his motivation for making the 5-foot-tall structure that's gaining attention, as LeSeige constructed it for his wife, Joyce, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about five and a half years ago, according to Inside Edition.

LeSeige cares daily for his wife, who also has breast cancer. Considering that she has lost her ability to speak, among other effects, he wanted to find a way to reconnect with her; that's what led him to launch the cathedral project.

"I’m her primary caretaker and sometimes it can be very stressful and lonely every day and it was getting me down," he told Inside Edition. "I needed a hobby to take my mind off of her illness."

Recalling how the two once toured Europe while he worked as an air traffic controller, LeSeige decided to handcraft the model cathedral. It was a symbol of their time together — one that he had hoped would rekindle their connection.

"Even when we got back to the United States, my wife and I never stopped thinking about the cathedrals," he explained. "My wife and I will never get to travel again, so I wanted to bring this cathedral to her so she could see it and remember our time together."

LeSeige, who has been married to his wife for 62 years, told the outlet that he struggles to know what his wife is thinking, as she can't speak to him — but he believes that his cathedral project helped to stem that divide.

As he worked on it each night, Joyce would sit near him and watch, offering up a now rare bonding experience.

"When she stares at me blankly, it can be the hardest thing in the world," LeSeige said. "But she watches me work on it every night and she touches the wood and kisses me and it makes me believe she knows what I’ve created for her."

LeSeige told Inside Edition that he became enthralled with the idea of constructing a wooden cathedral after seeing a pattern on the internet.

Then, he came up with the design for his creation on his own and proceeded to build it in his garage — a process that took around two hours each night over the period of about 10 months.

He used wood, glass and even ran electric on the structure.

LeSeige said that the impact of the project has been profound. Not only did it give him a way to connect with his wife, but he said that it also provided a fair bit of self-satisfaction.

He was so impressed with the final product, in fact, that he said he sat and stared at it for an hour after he completed it.

Elderly individuals often make headlines for the inspirational and kind acts that they perform for their spouses. These stories attract attention, as they show the world that true love can persist even decades into a marriage.

Just consider the photo of a man helping his wife purchase makeup that went viral last year. He assisted his seemingly struggling wife in finding just the right color — an act that was widely seen as an inspirational, love-filled moment.

There was also the viral video of 92-year-old Howard Serena and his dying 93-year-old wife, Laura, which featured him serenading her as she lay in hospice care suffering from dementia, as People Magazine reported last year.

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com Twitter: billyhallowell Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell

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