wings and things

Still Anthony

on June 14, 2015

A couple of years ago I read Lisa Genova’s novel, Still Alice and, over the last couple of days, Anthony and I watched the movie. For those who haven’t seen or read the story, Still Alice is about how a linguistics professor, Alice, is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 50 and how she and the family cope.

I suppose it was a strange choice of film to watch with a husband who has Parkinson’s disease dementia (and was probably a contributing factor in the grief I felt the other evening). But yesterday, as he and I watched the final scenes, he suddenly became quite engaged in Alice’s deterioration, and asked me what was wrong with her. I keep the dvd controller close so I can pause whatever we are watching whenever Anthony says anything.

Me: She has Alzheimer’s disease.
Anthony: It’s worse now, isn’t it.
Me: Yes.

I had paused the film at a particularly stark close-up of Alice’s confused expression (Julianne Moore is brilliant as the character Alice). Anthony and I both looked at her face for a few moments then I hit the play button again and we watched silently as the movie came to an end.

Unlike Alice, Anthony has not had to experience the creeping horror of knowing he has dementia. He still doesn’t know and I don’t tell him because I don’t want him to be afraid or embarrassed. So, when he asks where his mother is, or how she is (this is a frequent question) I just say that she is fine.

Anthony: Is she at home?
Me: Yes.
Anthony: Is Ming there too?
Me: Yes, and they’re both fine.
Anthony: So when are we going to Golden Valley?
Me: When the weather gets warmer, Ants. It’s too cold today.

Anthony’s mother died over 30 years ago and Golden Valley was his childhood home so the only ‘real’ aspect to these conversations is Ming.

I’ve recovered from my grief episode of the other evening and, since watching Still Alice, realise how lucky we are that Anthony has never had to go through that fear-of-dementia experience because it has just happened, insidiously, slowly, kindly even. He doesn’t know he has dementia; he still recognises all of us; there is still a lot of laughter and Anthony’s one-liners are hilarious.

Anthony: You need to brush your hair.
Me: I just did!
Anthony: Do it again, it’s not right.
Me: I’ll shave your head if you keep hassling me!
Anthony: Feisty!

Still Anthony.


30 responses to “Still Anthony

  1. Terry says:

    It is a blessing many times over when patients do not know the intense part of their illness. Hugs dear friend

  2. I love the picture of Anthony, he has very commanding eyes and a strong face. I can see why you got captured by him. πŸ™‚

  3. OnTheWay... says:

    Beautiful post xx

  4. tootlepedal says:

    I am glad that the grief cloud lifted.

  5. That’s a great photo of Ants, Julie! ❀
    Diana xo

  6. Vicki says:

    I have to agree with you, Julie.
    It’s lucky that Anthony doesn’t know he has dementia.

    It must be terrifying knowing that you are slowly losing your mind and memory.

    I remember seeing a film about this – (Away from Her – couldn’t remember the title, but Mr Google came to the rescue). It was so sad.

  7. arlene says:

    I read the book a few months ago, love, love it! It’s nice to see a photo of Anthony here.

  8. I can’t watch that movie Julie. It scares me. I see it so much in my day to day. I have met and worked with those like Alice. And I’ve met and worked with Anthony’s. Then there are those who flat out tell me they have dementia, but then say “that’s what they tell me but I don’t see a difference”. It’s the fear in the “Alice’s” that makes me not watch. If I haven’t told you lately, I so admire you and Anthony and Ming. So very much.

  9. It’s great that you can ‘kibbitz’ like you do with each other… I don’t know if kibbitz it just a word I grew up with… but meaning banter back and forth like you do…. Diane

  10. susanpoozan says:

    What a lovely photograph of Anthony.

  11. So happy for you all that Anthony has been spared this knowledge. My grandmother suffered from dementia and knew she was losing her faculties–it was horrible to witness, especially for my father. The silver lining in this cloud it seems. And as so many have commented, what a wonderful photo!

  12. Rhonda says:

    Seen it, loved it, hated it, terrified by it, wonderful film. You’re brave and incredibly tuned in and in large part, Still Anthony is possible because you are still you, only better…xo

  13. Wonderful picture and beautiful post!

  14. This was so wonderful it is good when you see flickers of Anthony

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