Terminal disease hasn’t stopped Chicago couple from seeing the world

Woman refuses to let Alzheimer’s Disease slow their life, travels

October 14, 2013

by Katie Mingle

(Photo courtesy of StoryCorps)
Susan and Debra Schwartz

When Susan Schwartz married her husband, he came with kids. One of those kids was Debra Schwartz, who was a star-trek watching teenager, and a bit wary of the new woman in the house.

The two women visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth to talk about the challenges they faced negotiating their relationship in the early days , and more recently, how Susan and her husband aren’t letting a terminal disease slow down their lifestyle.

Susan Schwartz said she knew her husband was “it” after they danced together.

Schwartz: You can find out a lot about a person by the way they dance with you.

StoryCorps’s mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. This excerpt was edited by WBEZ.

But that first year of marriage wasn’t always easy.

Debra Schwartz: You didn’t have anything to prepare you to suddenly be my stepmother.… How did you know how to interact?
Susan Schwartz: Well, I think it’s like everything else, you just roll with the punches.
Debra: Was I mean to you?
Susan: Oh, sometimes, sure.

Even though it was difficult, Susan and her husband made it through a first year, and then a second, she said. Now they’re approaching 38 years together.

The couple still loves to travel. But when they were on a trip to Ecuador, they noticed something alarming.

Susan: All of a sudden he didn’t understand where we were. It was April, and he thought it was November.

To find out how what happened next, and more about Susan’s  wish for her husband, click on the audio above.

Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.