Moments are fleeting. Memories last a lifetime. In fact, I dare say that memories are the building blocks of a life well-lived. And many times they are all we have left.
Until we don’t. Thanks to Alzheimer’s Disease. It chisels away a little at a time until those memories are no longer there.
Over 5 millions Americans are battling this disease according to the latest facts and figures from the Alzheimer’s Association.
That’s a lot of people. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone personally with this disease. But I will. There’s no doubt there. By 2050, an estimated 16 million Americans will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
At 81 years old, Glen Campbell seems to be the public face of the disease. Anyone who has seen the 2014 documentary, I’ll Be Me, got an in-depth glimpse into the early stages of what this awful disease can do.
The documentary is heartbreaking and heartwarming all rolled into one. It’s clear in the film, Glen Campbell is fueled by the music. When everything else was falling apart, the music still resonated within him. It’s what kept him going, one day at a time.
There’s an openness and vulnerability that Glen and his family show in this documentary. But I think this project was put together in part to give Alzheimer’s a big middle finger – or as he says in the movie – a big “left hook’. He’s letting it know that it can ravage his mind and it can ravage his body, but it can’t ravage his spirit.
Speaking of memories, my dad was the one who introduced me to the music of Glen Campbell. That’s saying a lot since my dad doesn’t love music. He loves motors. He has a better chance of winning ‘Name That Carburetor’ than he does at ‘Name That Tune’.
Now my Mom, she’s the one that loves music. So when I would go digging through her record collection as a kid, my dad’s few records could be found interspersed in there. Glen Campbell was one of those.
But just because you love motors over music doesn’t mean you can’t have a few favorite songs along the way. For my Dad, it doesn’t get any better than “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, “Wichita Lineman” and “Gentle of My Mind.’
I think my dad loves songs that reference other places. Or maybe he likes the songs that feel like they could have been easily placed in a Western starring John Wayne.
As for me, I’m a “Gentle on My Mind’ kind of guy. The opening of that tune sucks me in every time.
But in true Glen Campbell fashion, he’s not done yet. On June 9, he will release his 64th and final album. The project was recorded back in 2012 and 2013 while he still had a little gas left in the tank. And the album title is so fitting – Adios.
You see, I’ve never been one for goodbyes. They seemed too final for me. I once heard a preacher say at a funeral that it’s not goodbye – it’s see you later.
Only six years after his initial diagnosis, it’s been reported that Glen is now in the final stages of this dreadful disease. I can’t even imagine what that looks like or feels like.
His back roads may be overgrown. And I’m sure the rivers by his memory are all but dry. But one thing’s for sure – the music and spirit of Glen Campbell will continue to be with me – and always be gentle on my mind.