A video of a man and his elderly mother who has Alzheimer's has gone viral, being viewed more than 43 million times. Kelly Ridings says he documented the duet to encourage other families impacted by the disease and never dreamed it would take off the way it did.
Ridings had to place his 88-year-old mother, Julia, in assisted living a few months ago. He stops by to see her a few days a week while on his UPS route, and recently learned how music helps keep her memory alive.
"She'll remember people that she's known but three to five years. But people she's known all her life, she may or may not recognize them," explains Ridings.
He felt guilty about enrolling her in assisted living, but on one recent visit Ridings decided to do something special for his mom.
"I was thinking I hadn't put anything on video of us singing, and we've been singing together since I was five," says Ridings.
He thought it would help him forget his mom is sick. He also hoped the music would help her remember.
"It's more of me being the child again, her being the mother, and we're just singing," adds Ridings.
To their surprise, the tender moment shared on Facebook quickly picked up more than half a million shares and hundreds of thousands of comments from people across the world.
"I sang it with him because it was really like it was when he was just a little boy. When he was really little," says Julia. "All of it was about him, mostly."
She began performing at a young age as part of a traveling quartet with her brothers and sisters. Ridings says his mom is like her former self when she puts on a show. He hopes his video encourages other families to continue trying to make new memories even as old ones fade.
"You can still have a relationship with them. You don't have to feel guilty about it. They just want somebody back in their life," says Ridings just before they give each other a hug.
Julia's favorite song is "Dreaming of a Little Cabin". She used to sing it while in the quartet. Not only does she recall the lyrics, but she also plays guitar without missing a beat. They'd like to post another music video, but haven't decided when they'll do it.