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Profiles in Dementia: David Cassidy (1950 – 2017)

David CassidyDavid Cassidy was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, who catapulted to fame as Keith Partridge in the 1970’s television show The Partridge Family.

Although Cassidy aspired to have the musical chops and freedom of Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones) and John Lennon and Paul McCartney (The Beatles), his long-running stint on The Partridge Family relegated him to performing “bubblegum” music. It was something he hated, but depended on after the TV series ended to continue to make a living. Continue reading

Profiles in Dementia: Malcolm Young (1953 – 2017)

Malcolm Young suffered from alcohol-related dementiaMalcolm Young, along with his younger brother Angus, founded AC/DC, one of the first metal rock groups, in 1973.

AC/DC quickly gained traction with its driving rhythm and shouted vocals and moved into the spotlight of the music scene after just a couple of years in the recording studio.
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Profiles in Dementia: Barbara Foraker (1944 – 2017)

Barbara Foraker, and her husband, Larry, were good friends of my parents.

Barbara Louise Foraker, 73, passed away during the early morning hours of 21 October 2017. Natural causes, stemming from her ongoing battle with Lewy Body Dementia, contributed to her death. She endured a rapid and unexpected decline in her health over the past month, after experiencing a fall. Continue reading

Profiles in Dementia: Glen Campbell (1936 – 2017)

Glen Campbell 1967 (Alzheimer's Disease)Glen Campbell was one of the first country artists to make the successful crossover into Top 40, blazing the trail in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s for a few other country artists (Alison Krauss, the Dixie Chicks, Jason Isbell, and Sturgill Simpson, to name a few) who would follow him decades later to also be successful crossover artists.

My parents liked his music and that is how I became aware of Glen Campbell. Continue reading

Remembering My Beloved Mama: Muriel June Foster Ross

mama mother's day

I originally wrote this as a “Profiles in Dementia” tribute to my mama, but it’s appropriate as a remembrance of her birthday too.

Today would have been Mama’s 88th birthday. I miss her – and my daddy – terribly, but I’m glad her suffering – and his – is over.

I hold you both close in my heart and my love, and most importantly in my memories of thankfulness and gratitude for the blessing of both of you in my life.

Until we meet again.

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Profiles in Dementia: Helen French Garrison (1930 – 2017)


Helen Garrison as a young womanOne of my best and closest friends, who is a sister to me and I to her, lost her mom, Helen French Garrison, to dementia on Sunday, January, 29, 2017.

While my friend shares many traits and characteristics with her dad, she shares just as many with her mom, including, to name a few, her mom’s Southern charm, her grace, her kindness, and her generosity.

Helen Garrison was a beautiful lady inside and out. I’m thankful that both Mama and I had the honor of calling her both family and friend.

In tribute to Helen, and with the family’s permission, this profile in dementia is written by my friend about her mom and her dad, who faithfully and lovingly kept his in-sickness-and-in-health promise as Helen’s primary caregiver during her long journey through dementia, and their lives together as husband and wife.

Lloyd Helen Garrison wedding day“I’ve always been so thankful for the blessing of my devoted, loving, godly parents. And this week I’m thankful to have been with them for the final days of my mother’s life. In the past few days my dad has been recalling and sharing so many stories and memories of their life together. They were a very special couple who worked together to keep their promise of for better or worse, til death. Together they brought up two children and are the grandparents of six and great grandparents of nine. Now my dad is trying to figure out where to go from here. After 64 ½ years of marriage, he has to change his mindset from “we” to “I” – quite a challenge for him at age 87.

My mother was born February 20, 1930 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At the age of twelve, she moved with her parents and sister Blondie to Sheffield, Alabama where she finished her schooling. In 1952 she graduated with every honor from Florence State Teachers College, now the University of North Alabama, with a teaching degree.

Three months later she married Lloyd Garrison, and they moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming where he was stationed at the Air Force Base. When he was discharged, they returned home to Alabama where my brother and I grew up.

Mother taught elementary school for decades and was much loved by her students and their parents. After retiring from teaching, she ran the office for the very busy Garrison Electric Company which my dad started. She was energetic and full of life, love, and joy which she radiated to her family, students and friends. Also, she was an amazing hostess and cook, and she thrived on having groups of friends and family over for meals and fun. She hosted many family Thanksgiving, Mother’s and Father’s Day and anniversary events! For our pre-wedding dinner for family and wedding party members, she killed, skinned, and cooked a dozen chickens in addition to all the side dishes and dessert!

Interestingly, my mother’s many strengths and talents were my dad’s growth or challenge areas, and conversely, my dad’s many outstanding talents were my mother’s growth areas. They relied on each other, and together they made the complete package!

Lloyd and Helen Garrison in their golden yearsOf course this is a bittersweet time for our family — the bitterness of the loss and void, and the sweetness that finally Mother is at peace, no longer struggling and suffering. We are focusing on the many cherished memories of life with such an outstanding loving and beautiful lady. And we rely on our faith in the promises of God that we will see her again.

Helen French Garrison died on January 29, 2017.”

Profiles in Dementia: Robin Williams (1951 – 2014)

Robin Williams in "Good Morning, Vietnam"Robin Williams was a man of great intellectual depth and many diverse talents. He burst on the scene as the quirky, but engaging Mork on the TV series Mork and Mindy in the late 1970’s. It was clear even then that his talent was bigger than the small screen could contain, and he quickly made the transition to the big screen in films that brought him great acclaim (Dead Poet’s SocietyAwakeningsGood Morning, Vietnam, and What Dreams May Come, to name a few) as a serious actor, writer, and producer. 

Williams, a graduate of Julliard, began his career as a stand-up comedian. His style was unique: rapid-fire, insightful, and always extremely funny with the undercoating of serious truths lying just beneath the humor.

Early in Williams’ career, he battled the same demons of drug and alcohol abuse that seem to disproportionately haunt the most talented among us mere mortals. He successfully overcame both, but I am inclined to believe that the years of substance abuse were a contributing factor to his development of Lewy Body dementia in the couple of years of his life.

Williams’ widow, Sharon Schneider Williams, recently wrote an essay (published in the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology) describing her husband’s last year as Lewy Body dementia consumed his brain.

Robin Williams in his last year of lifeIt is hard at times to read (I saw many things there that I saw in my own mom’s Lewy Body dementia), but it captures the essence of Lewy Body dementia in real time in a way I have not seen described before.

Robin Williams, unable to continue to humanly fight the unseen, but increasingly-threatening terrorist that had permanently taken his brain hostage, took his own life on August 11, 2014.