I am definitely going to see the film, “I’ll Be Me”…soon. I have to wait until it comes out on DVD though because it is certainly not something I can see in a theater surrounded by strangers. In fact, I may need to just watch it by myself.
The documentary, “I’ll Be Me” has the opportunity to raise awareness about a disease that has no treatment, no cure, no survivors. Increased awareness can help generate the funds that are needed for research so that a cure can be found, and to continue to provide education and support for the millions of caregivers caring for those living with this disease. I emphasize living with the disease, not dying from the disease because those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are still capable of living life. It’s a different kind of life than what they had before, but it is life. Providing support and educational resources to caregivers – in private homes or in Alzheimer’s care facilities – needs to happen to ensure the quality of life, not only for those living with Alzheimer’s but for their caregivers too, is the best it can be. Raising awareness can serve as a teachable moment for everyone impacted by Alzheimer’s.
When I watched the clip about Glen Campbell’s initial diagnosis and the movie trailer, I cried – a lot. In so many ways, Campbell reminds me of my dad; his humor; his smile; his determination. I remember one of the initial doctor visits with my dad when a doctor asked him questions like, “What month is it?” He would just nonchalantly cast the question aside with a comment like, “Oh, I don’t think too much about that anymore.” The doctor asked him where he was at, and he responded that he wasn’t sure. She asked him if he was at a school, and he just said, “Well, I don’t think so.”
Too many questions and he would get agitated, but just spend a little time with him, holding his hand, touching his face, telling stories, and he would just light up. I’d love to have those days back. To see his face light up when I walked in the room, going on walks and listening to his stories or sitting at the table and laughing – good, ole’ belly laughs – with him. He was so happy; I thoroughly enjoyed that night! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment with him. These are all Alzheimer’s memories – many late-stage memories, and I am thankful I took the time to make them.
Alzheimer’s is often referred to as the “Long Goodbye.” I won’t deny the duration; for many, the goodbye can last decades. But I think it is important to not let the goodbye rob you of hellos. I certainly didn’t. Every day I had the chance to say hello to a new day with my dad. Hello to laughs, walks, games, talks. This outlook not only made our time together better, but it has made my time since the final goodbye much better.
“I’ll Be Me;” I’m sure it will be an emotional movie to watch, but it has tremendous potential to help people see not just the challenges but the joy that can be shared while living life with a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s a positive outlook; focused more on the hello than the goodbye.
Go see the movie, and in the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.