Glen Campbell died today of Alzheimer’s disease at 81 years old. Glen holds a very special place in my heart because he was diagnosed the year that Jim died. I am a person who listens to the words of a song. It’s the meaning that makes me like a song, and whether it plays as a movie in my head. Many of Glen's songs did. Glen was also from our era. Many people have said that after a person dies of dementia, they were so courageous . . . and they are. Anyone who faces their own demise before old age is courageous be it dementia, or cancer, or ALS. It’s a road that one can’t imagine unless you are the one facing it.
I have not lived it, but I have been a caregiver of someone who had dementia for 19 years. There are so many emotions that are felt by the person losing their memories one day at a time. At first there is fear of the unknown. That fear morphs into one of being trapped in your own body, in your own head, and you are not able to tell anyone what is wrong. Whether that truly happens, or whether that is just a fear, it is definitely something to recon with. Fight and determination are there as well. To wake up each day trying your hardest to fight through the confusion to function as well as you can. Do you accept that there are things about life that you will not understand, or will you believe that the people around you are conspiring to drive you crazy? No other disease wreaks so much havoc with your thought processes!
If you haven’t seen “I’ll Be Me”, Glen’s movie about his final tour playing the music he loves, I urge you to view it. It depicts what traveling this dementia road is really like for the person with the disease, and for those around him. I admire him so much for letting the world see how the dementia affects him as time marches on. You can’t understand what it’s like unless you see someone day in and day out trying to function through the dementia.
So many of us try to ignore dementia until it enters our personal world. If we ignore it, it will go away. Dementia will bankrupt our society unless we find a cure, because the care is so intensive and so expensive.
Thank you, Glen, for giving us your talent and your music, for giving us a window into your dementia life. Thank you, Kim, and family for helping orchestrate and support Glen in such a meaningful endeavor. God speed and I am celebrating your death because you are whole once again.