June 29, 2015 · 8:00 am
I finally had the chance to see the documentary about Glen Campbell called, “I’ll Be Me.” I highly recommend seeing it, even if you are not a fan of Campbell’s music.
The documentary is an unflinching yet loving look at how Campbell and his family have managed his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The film once again confirms the power of music. It was amazing to see how long Campbell’s music ability endured, even as he entered the late middle stages of the disease.
Embed from Getty Images
The film, made in conjunction with his family, doesn’t shy away from the ugly aspects of Alzheimer’s. Viewers witness Campbell’s temper, repeating questions, communication difficulties, wandering, discussions of incontinence episodes and paranoid outbursts.
Viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at the sometimes chaotic backstage scene before shows. As we all know, those with Alzheimer’s have good and bad days, until they end up with more bad ones than good ones. When you are performing in front of hundreds of people, the good and the bad are magnified.
Campbell is now in the final stages of the disease and lives in a residential care facility.
For Campbell fans it will be difficult to watch one of the greatest guitarists of all times deal with such a debilitating disease, but his phenomenal guitar work is on display throughout the film, as is his sense of humor and his fighting spirit.
If you’ve seen the film, please share your thoughts.
April 5, 2015 · 4:49 pm
Easter makes me think of eggs, of course, and how my dad avoided them like the plague. He feared having a high cholesterol level. Recent studies have debunked many of the previous reported links between egg consumption and high cholesterol, but when I was growing up in the 1970s-1980s, it was a big health focus.
As I got a little bit older and a tiny bit wiser, I thought it was strange that my dad would worry so much about eating one measly egg but smoked a pack or more of cigarettes each day. Surely the coffin nails would kill him via lung cancer before he developed heart disease.
We were both wrong. Despite the decades of smoking and the decades of egg aversion, Alzheimer’s claimed my dad’s life.
It made me think about how often our fears are misguided. We worry about x, when it’s really y that’s getting ready to do harm.
Fear is a valuable self-preservation tool, but it can also hold us back from our potential.
With both dementia and cancer prevalent in my family, I do think about what I eat and other lifestyle choices probably more than the average person.
But I also know I could get hit by a bus on my way to work.
There’s a balance there somewhere, everything in moderation, as the saying goes.
At least I’m going to enjoy my eggs.
May 19, 2012 · 2:45 pm
Last week, I wrote about how Dad ruined Mom’s first Mother’s Day by landing in the hospital for foot surgery. He ended up in a tremendous amount of pain from the procedure.
In walked Talwin. It became my dad’s new best friend and my mom’s worst nightmare.
Talwin (Pentazocine) is intended for moderate to severe pain and actually had been tested by several legitimate organizations in the 1960’s which had lauded the drug for its non-addictive properties. Well, Dad and some heroin junkies looking for a cheap fix proved them wrong. “Ts and Blues” was all the rage briefly circa 1978. Some enterprising heroin addicts had found that by crushing up Talwin along with an over-the-counter antihistamine (tripelennamine—the pills were blue) and injecting it, they could produce a high similar to heroin. Dad was terrified of needles, so I’m sure he stuck with the pill form.
Mom swears Talwin was banned at some point. From my research, it seems another drug, naloxone, was added to Talwin to block the drug’s use recreationally, which caused its illicit use to plummet, therefore the drug remains legal. Perhaps Mom is just having some wishful thinking. According to Mom, while Dad was in the woozy grasps of Talwin, he somehow managed to work and pay the bills but he would park the car in the middle of the street. When he was at home, he would sleep. And sleep some more.
Eventually, he ran out of any refills he might have been given for his recovery from foot surgery. He went with Mom to the doctor to beg for more pills. The doctor refused. Dad tried to wheedle some more drugs out of the doctor, but the doctor just looked over at Mom, who said nothing but nodded to show she supported the doctor’s decision. Dad had Mom wait outside and he went back in for a final plea. Rejected again, he walked out, angry and in need of some T’s.
Ultimately, he switched from T’s to V’s, as in Valium, until he gave up his pill popping phase for good. Well, that is, until he was fed a steady stream of mind-altering drugs in the care center at the end of his life. Of course, pill addiction now has reached epidemic levels in the U.S. We were fortunate as a family that Dad was able to escape from the cruel jaws of addiction back in the 1970’s.
March 1, 2012 · 9:45 am
I don’t remember my dad breaking out the suit and tie very often in my childhood. He was more the “business casual” kind of guy. He usually wore slacks, a dress shirt or sweater and sturdy black walking shoes. He never owned a pair of jeans or a pair of sneakers. That’s why it was such a shock to see him in the nursing home for the first time, wearing Scooby Doo pajama bottoms and canvas sneakers. The next time I visited he had on a pair of sweat pants. The nursing home staff dressed the residents in whatever was the most comfortable and easy to manage with all of the diaper changes they had to deal with. I understood the reasoning, but it was also another blow to my dad’s identity.
But in this photo, one of my all-time favorites, Dad and I are ready to hit the town. I’m guessing this was a holiday picture of some sort. I love the joy that is radiating from both of our faces in this photo. It’s just love, pure and simple, in its natural essence. Dad’s sporting a groovy 1970’s tie and I have to say, I’m looking pretty darn adorable.
In the NPR story on Alzheimer’s that features The Memories Project, I’m referred to as “daddy’s little girl” which I never thought would have applied to me. But as I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about Dad, discovering photos and recording the family stories from over the years, I cherish the close relationship that Dad and I had when I was a little girl. Of course, I was too young to appreciate it at the time, and sadly, as I got older, we drifted apart until the final few years of his life. But at least I have photos like this to remind me that I was indeed, “Daddy’s little girl.”
January 14, 2012 · 1:28 pm
One of my earlier memories of an outing with dad was going to get gas on our assigned day during the gas shortage crisis of the late 1970’s. We would putter down the road in our boat of a car, which I believe at the time was the emerald green LTD. Then we would wait in a long line of frustrated motorists to fill ‘er up. If I was a good girl, dad would buy me an Orange Crush soda.
As I got older, I remember my dad having this odd habit of only filling up the gas tank by a quarter or half a tank. I never quite understood the logic behind this, I just assumed he was trying to pinch pennies, though we were never so bad off that we couldn’t afford a full tank of gasoline. Maybe he had been permanently scarred by the gas shortage.
We would also go see the waterfall at a place called the Tahitian Village. It was a kitschy Tiki-themed mini-resort, with a hotel, lounge, restaurant and coffee shop all rolled into one. I guess it was kind of a poor man’s version of Trader Vic’s. The over-the-top decor could be found on the exterior as well, and that’s where I remember walking on a bridge while holding my dad’s hand, to see a waterfall. It was especially refreshing on a hot summer day. Tahitian Village had its heyday in the 1960’s-1970’s and has long since been torn down.
Looking for photos of the Tahitian Village led me to a whole collection of photos of my hometown, Downey, Calif. on Flickr, that really brought back a lot of memories. So many places that I associate with my childhood have either been torn down or are on the chopping block, all to make way for another strip mall. It should be of no great surprise, as not many small businesses survive 30 years or more in this world anymore. Still, it’s a bit sad to see that all I have remaining of my childhood landmarks are captured in photos or in my memories.