making tracks

I guess that one of the things about having a blog is busting yourself. You can share experiences, state opinions and pass the word onward to others. In some cases you can print retractions, apologize and correct yourself. You don’t see it very often but the chance is there.

This Valentine’s Day my wife and I went to the movies and saw “Still Alice”, a drama starring Julianne Moore. It tells the story of a 50-year-old Linguistics professor who finds out she has early onset Alzheimers disease. It starts off with a few missing words and deteriorates to a truly heartbreaking state of which there is no cure for yet. Miss Moore’s performance is spot on (I believe she won the Golden Globe for this role); she goes from an agile public speaker to not being able to say more than a single word.

If you have experienced Alzheimers or dementia within your family or circle of friends you know that it is difficult to handle seeing a vibrant able person slip away into the twilight before their time. My Grandmother had a slow progression which went from lucid moments followed by complete loss of memory as to who her family was. I visited her in the last few years and it was just hard to handle.

I guess this is where the part about busting myself comes in. I have a friend who I used to work with who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. He had come out of a rough patch in his life where he was making changes in his behavior in order to improve his situation. Some of our other co-workers were catty and cruel to him behind his back, calling him “burned out”, “space cadet” and other things. I found it ironic as one of the changes he made was not drinking or using anything. I spent time with him as he tried to get back to a level playing field and like many of us, just trying to keep the next job coming into view. There were tests. There was a possible diagnosis of multiple mini-strokes which had left him slightly altered.

All he wanted was to keep working. As the diagnosis became clear, his main skill, rigging was out of the question. It is too dangerous to have someone who is forgetting things hanging great weights over others heads. He also had worked as a guitar tech and the danger of giving someone an out-of-tune guitar was less life threatening. We kinda lost touch around the time I had my heart issues as I quit my stressful position with the ESB.

I had other friends occasionally mention him, having seen him as they passed through southern California  and suggest I write or call. I didn’t. I’d see traces of him on the internet. I didn’t reach out. Finally I got a message from his wife asking for us, his other family, to help financially with his needs or he would probably have to be made a ward of the state. I pledged but didn’t send.

What happens when our friends get cancer, lose the ability to work, have difficult illnesses? Why do some of us just become like people avoiding eye contact with the homeless? Are these people contagious or dangerous to us? Of course not. By averting our gaze we don’t have to see their unfortunately different state. Am I the only one who does this? I must guess no.

 

I fear that the same thing will happen to me, finding out who my real friends are and those who keep their eyes to the horizon. I don’t know if this is the right forum for this but the movie bugged me enough to want to do this. Perhaps in the future I’ll be more of a friend to others, giving what I can and not making the broken ones invisible as well. I pledge to be better about this as my generation wanders into the bonus round and things like this become more likely.

 

And to my friend? I cherished our friendship. From the days at Danker and Donahue with your bike or the band’s van to the biggest stadium tour I ever did, you were someone who I counted on, hoped that you saw me as a worthy co-worker. Later in our time together you reached back to me and I was glad to be there. I hope you know peace. I hope you still know love.