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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gratitude at Thanksgiving Time and Always November 25, 2014

So many of us have such mixed feelings at holiday time. We reunite with family, sometimes with those whom we don't see often. We realize the passage of time as they all look older. We don't often see our own aging.

We remember holidays past--the folks who are no longer with us, due to illness or death or divorce,  the specialty regional or ethnic foods we ate that no one knows how to make anymore, the football games we played in the yard or watched at our local high school stadium, the parade we actually attended or watched on television.
Often the holidays now feel diminished, especially when family live far away and cannot all attend or coose not to attend due to family feuds. Even more so, when one of the loved ones has developed dementia and cannot participate any longer, can't help with the preparation, can't travel to visit family members and sometimes don't even remember their own family members' names.

What do we have to be grateful for?  We are grateful for the people in our lives, the new people we have recently met who enrich us and share their stories and recipes with us. We are grateful for what we have that is good and wholesome and bountiful. Of course all that good food is also fattening. People actually eat about 4500 calories in a typical American Thanksgiving dinner, more than double the amount recommended for a whole day!

We are enriched by feeling gratitude for the people we share our lives with, for children and grandchildren, for parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents. We are grateful we are not alone.

I am grateful for the staff of the memory care center where my husband resides. Each year they work on the holiday, decorating the center, preparing and serving the most traditional foods in a way that is possible for the residents and their visitors to enjoy, which is even more important for the residents who do not have family who come to visit. Sharing the day with them increases my gratitude for the blessings that have been given to me. Please share your bounty with someone who has less and smile, visit and reach into your pockets and donate money to your favorite charity to show your gratitude on this holiday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Glen Campbell Movie November 17, 2014

I went to see Glen Campbell's new movie which follows the last two years of touring after his public announcement that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
I had several feelings as I watched this film. First it shows the beginnings of the disease and explains how normal the person can seem, especially to ousiders. Next it shows how talented Glen Campbell was, how he could still play the guitar and read the words on the teleprompter on stage while often forgetting the name of his daughter who played the bango right next to him.
The film shows how much he adores his current wife and the difficulties he has in recognizing other members of his family, including his own children (he has eight) and his former wives (he had three others.)
Next the audience becomes aware of how much he loses during these two years, how different he is at the end of the film from who he was at the beginning.

The film shows the progression of this terrible and terrifying disease, how he forgets that he hasn't taken a shower, how he becomes paranoid that someone has stolen his golf clubs, how his facial expressions change, how much older he appears and how his libido increases.

The film shows the dedication of his wife and of some of his children who play music with him and the touring ends when everyone sees he can no longer perform. Yet he has fulfilled his contract completing at the end of 2012 and then putting out another single. It is remarkable to what degree the family, especially his wife extended themselves to keep her husband/father  active and engaged as long as was possible, encouraging, entreating, directing, suggesting, cajoling and privately crying.

After viewing the film, I googled Glen Campbell and discovered that by April, 2014 he had been placed in an Alzheimer's treatment facility, three years after the diagnosis. I also read that several of his family members object to his placement, not the ones who have been so close with him during the progression of the disease, but some of his older children who still don't get it.