Usually around this time of year I answer one of our most frequently asked questions: how is Frances doing? (Frances and I are the wife/husband team that founded Click!.)
Click! Design That Fits began as Frances’s vision, and Click!’s ongoing design sensibility was established as an extension of her aesthetic. “Design That Fits” is a nod to the idea that items at Click! “fit”, stylistically, both with each other and with Frances’s jewelry designs.
It’s been nearly six years since Frances was diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, at age 48. Since then we've made every effort to keep Frances involved in the store that she established and loved. You may have interacted with her at the shop, chatting about her favorite new item even as words have begun to fail her. In the last several months it’s become evident that it’s not working for her to be in the shop on a regular basis any more.
The isolation of the pandemic has been hard for many of us, and that is also true for Frances. Those who know her know that she is very social person by nature. The progression of her Alzheimer’s combined with COVID distancing and safety measures has meant that her world is quickly becoming much smaller. The disease has accelerated and currently stands at a point where she is less able to do the things she’s loved, and less able to do most things in general.
Her creativity and love of art has carried her pretty far over the last several years, but now she’s unable to focus on drawing or painting. It’s become difficult for her to hold a pen or brush (or, for that matter, a fork or spoon). We don’t expect to host future shows of her paintings or other work. Last year I described her artwork as “increasingly abstract”… at this point making art itself has become something of an abstraction.
Her mobility is compromised to a point where she no longer walks unassisted. She jumbles her words and has a hard time expressing herself, falling back on a handful of stock phrases and gestures in an attempt to stay connected and communicating with those around her. And yet, she is still the outgoing and friendly Frances that we know and love. Her positive energy is contagious. She says hello to people on the street during our short walks and errands and looks forward to daily FaceTime visits with her sister. She says “I love you” to me and the people around us more times than I can count, every day (truth be told, it's my favorite of her go-to phrases <3).
At home we’ve taken on paid caregivers to help with her basic needs which also gives me some time to a) breathe and b) focus on keeping the store running. We also spend a lot of time together at home, where she’s entertained by our cats and my attempts at playing guitar and encouraging her to sing.
Although I realize sometimes she fakes it, she does a surprisingly good job recognizing people. My biggest hope right now is that the vaccine rollout speeds up and we have more time to visit with familiar faces this year.
I’m especially grateful for the support of our community. Ever since we first announced her diagnosis we’ve felt buoyed by the love of our friends, neighbors, and customers (which is a pretty tight Venn diagram!). Those of you who have interacted with her in the store during this time have been patient and understanding beyond what I could have hoped for, and it’s made her feel important and involved. Thank you all so much.