Thursday, October 27, 2016

Memories: Past, Present, Future

"I've cried and I laughed. Laughing is a helluva lot better." - Glen Campbell

As a lifetime resident of the Chicago area and a Cubs fan these are exciting times. The Chicago Cubs finally making it to the World Series after 71 years is a dream come true. It has also been for me a whirlwind of memories in recent days, memories as a kid growing up and being a Cubs fan. Most of those years were filled with heartache watching them consistently lose or come close only to fall apart in the end, but within those memories there was also joy. Gramps would take me fishing many summer days and then we would sit in the car on a hot afternoon and eat lunch while listening to Cubs games on the radio. And then there were those summer days where as a kid I would caravan with a large church group to Cubs games and sit in the bleachers with my sack lunch and root on the boys in blue. These are the memories I will never forget... or will I?

They say that no one can ever take away your memories but unfortunately there is a disease that can and it's called Alzheimer's. I recently watched the 2014 documentary Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, the story of country/pop singer Glen Campbell and his struggle with Alzheimer's. This well-worth watching film shows Glenn in his first stages of this fatal disease and not able to even remember his children's names, and the courage and strength he carried to go ahead and do a farewell tour not knowing what affect the disease may have on his memory to sing his songs.

 This was a year-long tour and it was amazing to see how quickly Alzheimer's took away some of his memory. Toward the middle of the tour they had to start using a teleprompter to give him the words to the songs he had been singing and performing for over 40 years. But astonishingly he had no trouble playing the guitar and was able to pick up from the lead of his band which included 3 of his children.

Glen's wife was more fearful not of him being able to perform well but what he might do while on stage. The crowds were not only entertained but forgiving as they would sometimes see Glen forgetting what was to happen next during the shows. Glen Campbell was always known as a jokester so even when he messed up on stage while combating this disease he would just laugh it off and the loving crowd laughed with him.

Glen Campbell's farewell tour was not only a sign of courage and strength but brought a wider attention to Alzheimer's.

While Glen Campbell was losing his memory he was also making memories for his family.

His children were able to perform with him on stage, follow him on tour for the first time, sing and play instruments with him in the recording studio for one last album, and watch their daddy show courage amongst one of the most painful diseases, one of losing your memory.

Today Glen Campbell is in the last stages of Alzheimer's and has lost all forms of communication.

One thing Glen Campbell has taught me is the importance of making memories with family and friends, if not for today but for the future.

It's never too late for you to start making memories.

I'm still here, but yet I'm gone
I don't play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you 'till the end.
- Glen Campbell


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