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Amid Memory Loss, Grandparents, 86 and 89, Reflect on 7 Decades of Being in Love


A grandson's touching video tribute proves that even Alzheimer's is no threat against this couple's seven decades of love.

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As journalism major Sam Maller finishes up his years at Syracuse University, he decided to use one of his final projects as a way to get to know his grandparents better.

"I haven't really had the opportunity to have both of them look me in the eye, and [have them] tell me what they're going through," Maller told IE.com.

In a video titled, A Life In Love, the college senior sat down with his grandparents and captured a moment of reflection in their 74 year relationship.

Sylvia Paley met her future husband, Alfred, when she was 14, and he was 17. They had run into each other on the subway when the man was on his way to prom. He soon asked Sylvia to join him.

When the Navy man left later that year to join the war, Maller said Sylvia moved in with his mom, and by the time he returned, they married.

In addition to raising three children in a small town in Long Island, Alfred spent most of his life as an engineer and Sylvia worked at Macy's in New Jersey.

Now, as their grandchildren are beginning to grow up, the couple who has been married 67 years, face new challenges.

"It must be love, because I don't want to be with anyone else," Sylvia, 86, said in the video. "I think that's what's frustrating to him now. He's having memory loss."

Maller said his grandfather, 89, was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is still in his early stages of the disease.

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"He can still contribute, but during dinner, he's really quiet, and he spends way more time looking at us," Maller told IE.com. "I've asked him about it, and he said, 'It' all working in my head, but when I open my mouth, the words don't come out anymore.'"

"Sometimes I don't understand what's going on," Alfred said in the video.

Maller also said that his grandfather suffered from crippling arthritis for as long as he can remember.

"His fingers and joints are so beat up that his fingers are pointed in different directions," Maller said. "He's had a really good sense of humor but I think that's a really hard thing for him. His whole life is working with his hands."

The couple is now living out their golden years in Tucson, Arizona where Maller said they continue to share traditions like sharing a slice at the neighborhood pizzeria

"Their resilience and their will to keep living and keep their quality of life is... what keeps them going," Maller said.

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Maller told IE.com that the video was also an opportunity for him to transition to the next chapter of his life, as the youngest of Alfred and Sylvia's grandchildren.

"I'm still the baby, and I still like being the baby, but now everyone in my family understands what I do and why I do it," he said.

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