The Age of Central Texas
During the last month I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Age of Central Texas campus on North Lamar. It is a “daycare” center for people who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer disease. I was asked to shoot a few formal portraits of their guests. They wanted images of the little moments when they get lost or brighten up. I was warned that some of the people get trapped in loops and will tell the same anecdote over and over again and to not let it phase me. They assured me that at least one person who knew the guest would be present to help keep them at ease. I thought it was a wonderful idea and readily agreed to be a part the project.
I arrived very early in the morning and set up shop in a conference room about twenty yards down the hall from the designated care area. Once I was set up, my contact Rob started to bring me people one at a time. I could hear him trying to explain where they were going as they walked down the hall. I tried to be as polite and friendly as possible as each one entered the room by introducing myself and asking them a few questions. Most of the time the answers I got were friendly but vague and somewhat disconnected. However, once they sat in the chair and started talking I got wonderful stories from childhood and impossible accomplishments.
I met one man named Roger who joined the Army at fifteen to go fight in the D-day invasion. He warned me with a severe tone that the most important article of clothing a person could own was a sturdy pair of boots. I met a lady who had fostered more than hundred children in her lifetime. She was in her nineties.
My favorite part of the day was being ushered to the common space where everyone was playing ping pong on tables that had been pushed together. Rob leaned over to me and pointed out an elderly Asian lady who was dressed in a pristine red suit holding a paddle upside down, adding; that she had played ping pong for Japan in the Olympics. I enjoy a good game of ping pong from time to time and asked if it would be alright if hit the ball back and forth with her. He thought it was great idea. I walked over and took up a paddle. She didn’t speak much English so we just started an easy rally. She was being polite. I was being polite. But, before long we both were standing a good five feet back from the table winging it at each other. Then she asked, “You want to play a game?” Of course I did! She beat me into the ground with a stone cold ferocity that one would expect from a professional. We played a best of three games. She won. I was sweating when it was over. It was a good game and pretty good day.
For more information on the Age of Central Texas visit their website: