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Baltimore Man Shares Mother's Musical Talents With The World

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Norma Griner, 91, is known in dozens of countries thanks to her son, Larry.

"She's gotten the chocolate from about eight or nine different countries," Larry said. "I never ask for anything. People just want to send them. They want to show their love."

Most of Norma's fans are caregivers, like Larry, of aging relatives.

"What Larry does with her is as remarkable as her singing," Leigh Lowe, whose father has dementia, said last month. "The patience and love and care he shows is as touching as any part of this story."

Norma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at least 11 years ago.

"When it actually started? We're not 100% sure," Larry said. "She knows my name because I'm here. Does she recognize that I'm her son? No."

Larry moved in full-time with his mom four years ago, taking over for his brother Howard in the primary caregiving role for their mother.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, which attacks memory and other cognitive function. It worsens over time.

"It was just a conversation with a stranger. It's seeing that on a regular basis. It's knowing that it won't get better, which is the hardest," Larry said. "I want my mom to live. Not just wake up every morning, but enjoy a moment."

To that end, Larry embraces his mother's musical past. She performed in numerous choirs—and even for the Baltimore Symphony Chorus for 24 years.

"It's the pathway to her mind. It's the pathway back to my mom," Larry said. "I think that anybody that has this disease has something in them that made them alive. You just have to find that pathway."

Larry posts videos of Norma singing everywhere from the kitchen table to Lake Roland, where she has formed friendships with regulars who enjoy hearing her sing.

"Absolutely incredible. She sings perfect pitch, in harmony," Lowe said. "She lights up. She lights up the world and everyone around her."

To learn more about Alzheimer's disease and how music and art can enrich those suffering, click here.

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