The love story of Jackie and Don Sebastian started when they were just 15 and 16 years old in Baton Rouge, LA when Jackie invited Don to her freshman class hayride and they shared their first kiss.
Their love story spans more than six decades of career changes, traveling, and raising two children along the way.
Don will never forget the memories they created, but that’s not the case for Jackie. She was diagnosed with dementia and recently moved to HarborChase of the Park Cities to receive quality care.
Don also moved to the community to be close to his wife, but she doesn’t know he lives there. He visits her often, and while it’s tough, his love for her is stronger now than ever before.
“Dementia is very hard on everyone, but just because she has this disease doesn’t mean I love her less. Our love will never fail,” he said.
Don first noticed his wife’s memory start to decline about five years ago. At the time, he was still able to care for her on his own. But a back surgery last year led to the couple moving to HarborChase of the Park Cities.
“We tried living in the same apartment, but her dementia progressed and it was time for her to move to memory care,” Don said. “Our love has never gone away, but she can’t know I live at the community.
“Each time I see her I’m thankful she remembers me, but she always insists on going home. She doesn’t realize this is her home. If I go too often, it will be harder for her to adjust and improve, and that takes a toll on me. I am grateful for the brief time I have with her when I visit. She has been the love of my life for 68 years, and the hard times make me stronger.”
Don was a businessman, and the couple moved between Dallas and Baton Rouge for several years before he and Jackie opened a company in Dallas in 1978, which they sold in 2001 to retire.
Don says he wants people to educate themselves about dementia because it can happen to anyone.
“It was her birthday recently, and each year I buy her two dozen roses. I know deep down she remembers that. I already have her chocolates and a card ready for Valentine’s Day,” he said.
“I still plan to celebrate our love because nothing can replace it. I just want people to not take things for granted, because one day your loved one may not remember the same precious memories you do. Our love is still there. I see the spark in her eye when I am with her.”
Molly Meyer, director of life enrichment at the senior living facility said the love between Don and Jackie is undeniable.
“He loves and supports his wife so much, and it’s inspiring to see,” she said. “Jackie and Don have a one-of-a-kind love story, and he truly goes above and beyond for his wife.”