British man Ted McDermott has struggled mightily with his memory since being diagnosed with dementia three years ago.
But if you put the long-time club singer in a car with his son and one of his favorite songs playing, it’s like the years and the illness disappear.
McDermott, 79, has become a sensation for his carpool karaoke rendition of the song "Quando, Quando, Quando" and other hits that were filmed as his son beams with joy from behind the steering wheel.
It started when McDermott’s son, Mac, 40, noticed his father beginning to forget the lyrics to his favorite songs. He took Ted, a former club singer and performer in the Butlins Redcoats, to a recording studio in Blackburn, Lancashire, to record his voice.
While driving in the car, he put on the background tracks to different songs they had recorded in the studio, and the two sang together all afternoon.
"Now it’s become a thing that we both do together,” Mac told TODAY. "It’s really bonded us. He’s become my best mate, and I have a sense I’ve become his."
Known as "The Songaminute Man" during his singing career because of the deep catalog of tunes he performed, McDermott also sings several Frank Sinatra songs, which are his favorite, as well as other classic tunes.
"To be honest, Dad is better singing on his own,” Mac said. "His version of ‘Here In My Heart’ is a knockout and really shows off his voice."
McDermott’s smooth voice is also now being used to raise money for the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society. More than $100,000 has already been donated through Mac’s online fund-raising page for "The Songaminute Man."
Mac wanted to be able to give back to the organization for all the help it provided during a difficult time for their family after his father’s diagnosis.
"After a particularly bad weekend, my last resort was calling the Alzheimer’s helpline. I completely broke down, but the woman at the end of the phone was amazing," Mac said.
"She listened for around 10 minutes while I just cried," he explained. "Then when I calmed down, she talked to me a lot about what dad was going through so I could understand what he was feeling. It gave me hope."
He also hopes that the bond with his father can give hope to other families enduring similar heartbreak.
"There will be tough days,” he said. "But keep strong. You can do it."
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