WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Patrick and Susan Maloney’s life together can only be described as a true love story.
“Susan and I have been together since we were 15,” Patrick said.
That’s why he’s felt so lost since she passed away last January.
“The person that was my best friend isn’t right next to me,” he said. “The person I would go to and say, ‘Hey, what do I do now?’ Well, I just have to imagine what she’d tell me.”
Susan suffered from frontotemporal dementia for seven years. She was 50 years old when she lost her battle with the debilitating disease.
“I will tell you I got down on my knees in that kitchen and I said, ‘God, give me strength and please help me get through this,'” Patrick recalled.
Patrick and Susan’s story went viral two years ago, when he shared a video of him singing “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker to his wife on social media.
The now 51-year-old said he communicated with his wife primarily through music, especially after she lost her ability to speak clearly.
Patrick will always remember the last words his wife ever said to him.
It was Valentine’s Day.
“I must have told her about 100 times that I loved her over and over again throughout the day, and at the end of the night I tucked her into bed,” Patrick recalled. “I laid her down and I kneeled down next to her and I remember whispering into her ear, “I love you so much.”
“She looked at me, and we hadn’t talked in months, she said to me, ‘I love you,'” he continued. “She said it twice … that was what gave me strength to go on and take care of her because I knew she was still in there.”
Patrick told 12 News that while caring for his wife and their three daughters, he always put himself second.
“You put your whole heart and soul into building something,” Patrick said of their family. “We had been together for 30 years when she got sick. I’ll tell you, she put a lot of love and care into our whole family for all that time.”
“I wanted to make sure she knew that I was there for her,” he added. “It was my honor to take care of her … knowing she loved me gave me strength.”
When asked what he misses the most about his wife, Patrick’s answer was simple.
“I really miss spending time with her,” he said. “Looking into her eyes, holding her hand and telling her that I love her.”
Patrick decided to share their story on social media to remind people that those suffering from dementia need love and care just like everyone else.
“It hurts every day to see the person you love like that,” he said of his wife’s illness. “I just tried to make every day as good as it could be for her.”
The Warwick family’s story touched the hearts of people all across the country.
Patrick even immortalized his wife as a superhero in a custom-made comic book.
“We came up with this idea called the critter queen,” Patrick explained. “My wife loved animals and she had amazing red hair.”
“Her super powers are that she can make her hair move all around and block bullets and throw things, but she could also make animals appear whenever she wanted to, who would help her fight the bad guys,” he continued. “I think she would have absolutely loved it. I’m a super duper nerd and I made her a part of my life in the nerd world.”
While life has been difficult to navigate without his other half, Patrick knows he has to keep going because it’s what his wife would’ve wanted.
“It’s really hard … When you lose somebody who means so much to you, you don’t realize what you’re really losing,” he said tearfully. “It’s your whole life.”
Patrick and Susan’s story is featured in our 12 on 12 Digital Original, The War on Alzheimer’s: The Battle Continues.