"To say that it's a family affair is putting it lightly," she said. A family affair it was, with dozens of friends and family packing the Peabody Club for the noon ceremony. The betrothed couple used two candles to light one, and that one candle, in turn, was used to light the first of the smaller candles distributed to all of the guests so that the flame was passed from person to person in a circle around the couple. In the midst of this they said, "I do." And as Julie and Jerry danced slowly in the center of a circle of candle-lit smiles, Julie's parents watched from their seats, their arms hooked together. It was their love, after all, Julie said, that got this whole thing started. Since her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Julie has become more and more involved in advocacy, in addition to caring for and spending time with Jeffrey. "The silver lining in all this is it has made me very aware of Alzheimer's disease and how it is affecting not only people in the U.S. but people all over the world," she said. "I've been active with the Alzheimer's Association here in the greater Maryland area, and I have participated in the walks and the advocacy forum every March in Washington, D.C, to raise awareness about the disease." What you learn from caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or other dementia, and from meeting other families dealing with those diseases, is the slow loss of memory and personality that, little by little, steals away from you the person you know, according to Julie. It's like grieving every day, she says. And yet when it comes to Julie's mother, her father still remains her father and a life example Julie hopes to live up to.
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