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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Making New Memories

Oct 02, 2023 10:28AM ● By Shannon Mc Kenzie

I recently returned from a trip to Washington State and North Idaho, where I grew up. My sister had an international business trip and needed someone to stay with her daughters, our father’s 75th surprise birthday party was over Labor Day weekend, and our stepfather entered memory care in Spokane last year and I hadn’t visited him yet. So three birds with one stone. Earlier in the summer, I had a conversation with my sister after she visited our stepfather, and she said that as she was leaving, he’d asked how I was doing. I assumed he’d forgotten who I was, so that gave me more urgency to visit. The stars were certainly aligned with this excursion—and my visit with my stepfather ended up being a highlight.

Arlo was drafted and played in the NFL for a short time until he was injured, and then he played several more years in Canada. When I was growing up, he was a high school football coach and teacher. I remember him being demanding and a bit impatient, but also gregarious and the life of the party. His football players practically worshipped him. He always made an impression. 

In memory care, Arlo was still the life of the party. The nurses told me they call him “coach,” and during my visit every time they walked by his room they exchanged banter. I found he had lost a lot of weight (I remember him regularly exercising to keep his weight under control and thought he’d be happy with it now). And he was organizing his room, placing various items in neat piles: socks, magazines, random things. I wondered if he was trying to make sense of his new reality. He did not remember me—I had prepared myself for that—and several times during our conversation, he asked how we knew each other. He talked about a woman who lived in the closet of his room, and sometimes he’d shift to a completely different train of thought that I could not follow. A couple of times I moved in my seat and something fell on the floor, and he immediately said something to the effect of, “It’s OK—don’t worry about that,” almost going to an extreme to assure me it was no big deal. It was sweet and out of character. And the best memory I have of our visit. 

So for me, this month’s free livestream prescreening of Memories for Life: Reversing Alzheimer’s (CLICK HERE for Trailer), hosted by KnoWEwell and Natural Awakenings magazine, is timely. Details: Free Livestream Advanced Screening of Major Alzheimer’s Film. I’m still processing my visit with Arlo, and I’m sure attending this event will help with that.

Wishing you a happy, healthy October,



p.s. Register for the October 14 livestream here:

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