BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. - Sometimes in life, we think tough times only happen to other people.
“This isn't going to happen to us. My mom isn't going to get dementia. Well, guess what, she's got it,” Joe Tanner, of Brooklyn Park, says.
Joe’s mom, Millie, was diagnosed with the disease around 2014. After seeing another family doing something similar, Joe started documenting his mother's journey, filming conversations with her and loading them to Facebook. The first one was over two years ago.
Since then there have been good times, and some not-so-good. The reality of such a devastating disease.
Nearly every video though, finishing with what's become Joe and Millie's signature tagline. Joe says “see you later” and Millie responds with “alligator.” Then, Joe says “after awhile” and Millie responds “crocodile.”
Dozens and dozens of videos later, their Facebook page, called "You'll Always Be My Mama", has nearly 2,500 likes and has become a source of support for families across the globe.
“We've had people from England, Australia, New Zealand,” Joe says. “People just saying ‘hey, we're going through the same stuff.’”
For Millie's 86th birthday, nearly a hundred cards showed up from people who follow her online.
As the love and support pour in, there's also a son hanging on to every moment he gets to spend with his mom.
“I probably dread the day when she's totally not going to know us,” Joe says. “That's going to be hard.”
He says as brutal as watching his mom go through this has been, focusing on the positives has been key, and he hopes that's what people see when they watch the videos.
“You have to just get those moments that you can,” Joe says. “We get the hills and the valleys. We get a hill every once in a while and I know there are the valleys, but still, you just have to try to be as positive as you can. If that's possible.”