By Jasmine Willis
DANSVILLE — Losing someone you love to Alzheimer’s is like losing them more than once, and the precious time you have with them needs to be remembered.
Paul Hynes, 93 of Dansville lost the love of his life, Frances after 65 years of marriage. She passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2013. The toll this disease took on the entire family created a heartbreaking wound. It stole several years and offered only moments of recognition.
Frances Hynes, 83, passed away in 2013 and left behind a legacy. Her legacy was her family, friends, and home she raised her children in.
Frances and Paul were married in 1948 and had a wonderful six decades together in the town they called home.
Paul wanted to do something to honor his wife’s memory, so he included her on the thing he enjoys doing most. Antique tractor drives through the countryside in tribute to France Hynes for Alzheimer’s Awareness on July 14. The group went through the rich farmlands of Dansville and thought about the moments Frances left behind in their hearts.
Donna Nagle, Paul’s daughter helped put the event together at the Dansville Fish and Game Club.
“This event makes my dad happy. He had this idea to honor mom after Christmas last year. Dad wanted to do a tractor drive. There were other types of awareness to pick, but there is not a lot known about Alzheimer’s in this area. We have the cancer center and office of the aging, but nothing that focuses on Alzheimer’s,” she said. “It took dad awhile to talk about it. He talks about it now, but not when she was alive. He would visit her at the nursing home for seven years, and that was his routine every day. We all feel like we lost her a long time before she passed away.”
Nagle said the hope of the event was the shed some light on this disease and other kinds of dementia.
Olga Monacell, Alzheimer’s Association communications manager said people mostly do these kinds of events on The Longest Day, which is on June 21.
“This is all part of The Longest Day initiative. People nowadays do something before or after June 21. They do something they love in honor of their loved ones that they lost to Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia,” she said. “Paul loves his tractors, so he is doing this to honor his wife Frances. Frances even helped him pick out the tractor. There are a lot of people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia and not many will talk about it. No one wants to talk about it with their loved ones and make them upset about a disease that has no cure.”
“It is events like this one that make people open up about it. There are now ways to live well with Alzheimer’s or dementia. You can receive help and excellent care from caregivers. There is a lot of education and support groups out there to attend,” Monacell continued.
Ryan Hynes, Paul’s grandson brought his family down to honor his grandparent’s legacy.
“This is a nice thing to do for grandma. The tractor has been part of the story for a long time. It is definitely his (Paul’s) baby. I am the only one allowed to use this tractor. My dad isn’t allowed to ride it,” he said.
Paul said it is never about the amount of people who come, but about the people who show up to support you.
“I am disappointed there were not more tractors here today, but we did get some nice donations. I had a good friend of mine bring down a nice check for the donation,” he said.
“This is a tribute to my wife who had Alzheimer’s. We do this in honor of Frances Hynes. We were married for 65 years. Alzheimer’s is an awful disease. I was the last to know she was sick. I noticed her words were not coming out good.”
Paul recalled the moment he fell-in-love with Frances.
“I met Frances in a diner. She was eating, and I must’ve said something smart to her, because she hit me in the shoulder. She kept doing it ever since. Now my daughter, Donna is just like her mother, and always hitting me in the shoulder when I say something smart,” he said.
Paul felt that the tractor drive was a nice trip to remember his moments with Frances.
“I think of Frances all the time. When I sleep at night I still reach over to see if she is there,” he said. “I am glad I did this tribute to Frances.”
Debra Girard, Paul’s niece said her uncle talks about tractors all the time. He once worked for Kodak for 30 years.
“It is great that they make people aware of antique tractors. It is important to see so we don’t forget them. They are basic, strong, made of steel, and they are still used on farms today. We get to see a direct connection to how we get our food. I can’t see us ever getting rid of this technology. It is wonderful to see all these farmers working, and these crops are starting to look good in the area,” she said. “Frances worked on a farm as a young girl. Paul delivered milk for small farms as a young man. That is why he didn’t go off to WWII, since they had to keep one person on the farm back then.”
Girard said the disease was hard on her mother, Doris, Frances’ big sister.
“Frances would get lost and they would find her sitting on the front porch of another house. We were glad when she got high level care in Mount Morris. I remember coming home to see Aunt Frances a few years before she died. I saw how serious the disease was since she didn’t recognize me,” she said. “I remember crying all the way back home. I hadn’t seen her in so long, and she didn’t even know who I was. Aunt Frances was always the one to greet me when I would come home, and wanted to get caught up on what I was doing in my life.
Uncle Paul stayed by her side the entire time they were together.”
Paul recalled the story of the famous tractor that he and Frances found in Batavia.
“My mom had sold my dad’s tractor, and that upset the both of us. I think it upset Frances even more. On our way to Batavia to do some shopping we saw a beautiful tractor. We went to shop first, and then went back to look for that tractor,” he said. “We knocked on the door once we saw it was for sale. It was a worn-out tractor with 640 hours on it. We found out it was once owned by Florence Gray. She had driven the tractor up and down Groveland Road. We bought the tractor at a reasonable price.”
The Dansville Boy Scouts sold hot dogs and refreshments. The Hynes Family sold items and had donations for Alzheimer’s Awareness to Alzheimer’s Association in Rochester.