Artist Stories

“My grandmother suffered from Alzheimer's and dementia for many years. It's difficult to see someone that you love loose bits of who they are, their memories, their routine, in essence their personality. My grandmother was loving, sweet and kind, and always quick to smile. As time went on, Fern became a shell of who she was. Her body was present, but her spirit and her energy were stolen from her. Recently, I was just morning the fact that I never got to know who she really was. The person my dad knew. She suffered a very long time. It is my deepest wish that a cure can be found. “ -  Julie Leidel, painter

 My father passed away at age 80. I took care of him in his last few years. He started getting Alzheimer's disease when he was 75.  It was during his last few years of life that it became a serious problem. He did not know who I was or that I was his daughter.  He would walk away from home but good neighbors would gently guide him home.  After that we put his name and address on a bracelet so others could help him.  He passed away not knowing his own family. I support any cause that can help with Alzheimer's disease. -  Sompong Payne, fiber artist

“It is so hard to watch and be a part of the ‘Long Goodbye’. Both of my grandmothers were artists. One of my grandmas physically died at age 93, but it felt like I lost her 7 or 8 years before that. She had been the strength of our family, the hub, the solid one. She had always been my confidante.  I visited my grandma steadily through those hard years, still confiding in her, reaching for her as she slipped away. I remember when she still knew I was an artist, but no longer knew my name. I didn’t expect her to know me any more, but one day one of my cousins and I went to visit, I stood in front of her wheelchair and touched her on the shoulder. Her eyes opened, then flew open wide as she smiled. I could see a moment that when I had a piece of grandma back. It was the last time I saw grandma.” - Randall May, Sculptor

“I’m somewhat of an expert on Alzheimer's and related dementia diseases. I was a licensed nursing home administrator in 6 different states in the 80's and worked with hundreds of patients with all types of dementia. Currently, my dad is 93 years old and has a severe form of cerebral atrophy; this is one of the more common types of dementia with symptoms much like Alzheimer's. It is a frustrating condition for both the victim and the family providing the care. “ -  Larry Hughes, Woodworker

“My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's early in 1999 and passed away June 21, 2007 two days before her 82nd birthday. Anyone who has watched a family member fight this disease knows how slowly it takes away dignity, well being, and sense of self. My mother was a wonderful, active, vibrant soul who was always ready for a good laugh. Even Alzheimer's couldn't kill her laughter.” - Douglas Glascock, woodworker

“Alzheimer's is a horribly debilitating disease. My mother-in-law died at 100yrs. old.  The disease started when she was in her late 70's. Over the years, I watched her decline as the disease took over her mind.  What a sad thing to witness. I am sincerely happy to contribute to assist in finding a cure for this disease.” - Linda Cook, jeweler

“Lila Jean taught me so many things in the garden before she lost not only her memory but also her speech. Four years she was unable to articulate except she joined me in singing along to her own birthday song. As she blew out the candle, the years of silence were warmed by a momentary return of the one who loved and shared so very much. If I could make a wish, it would be to sit quietly with Lila Jean in her  garden,  speaking in hush tones while watching fluttering friends dance around the garden like Angelina Ballerina. How magical…..” - Peggy Jackson, Butterfly artist

“My high school was a wrestling school. And one of the icons in the school and our town was the head wrestling coach Marvin Nelson. He was also our science teacher. As kids, Mr. Nelson was a larger than life figure to us. Being the wrestling coaching, his gregarious personality, love of motorcycles, and his competitive spirit, he was everything you think of when you think of a man’s man.  Alzheimer’s took “Marvelous Marv” (his nickname), his gregariousness, and his competitive spirit and turned him into a very combative and angry patient in the last years of his life. It was a sobering view of how this disease is so brutal.”  - Darren Curtis Skanson, musician