Monday, March 24, 2014

Tangled Memories

This two person exhibit has been the hardest, most personal work I have created so far. It is a two person show in which fellow artist, Marcy Axelband, and I each created work about our experiences of Alzheimer's.  Marcy's Dad is currently in the midst of it, my Dad had it and died almost 14 years ago.

My Dad's memory began to fade in his early fifties, when I was still a teenager. It was a time punctuated by hurt and confusion as he would increasingly forget what I had told him. However this soon transitioned into fear and dread as we began to suspect he had Alzheimer's. 

Early-onset Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis explained the present but haunted the future.

My Dad knew he was forgetting and he was depressed. Until he slowly forgot. 

By 58 he was living in a nursing home. It was an odd sight, a relatively young man among the frail elderly folks you’d expect to see. I would visit him when I was in town, making one-way conversations, not knowing who the visits were for. He no longer knew me. 

I was with him when he died in 2000 at the age of 65. The finality stung, even though he had already been gone for so long. 

I am thankful I did not go through this alone. Special thanks to my sister, Ellen Roodvoets, and my brothers, Glenn and Brett Woudenberg, for sharing their memories and insights which have inspired many of these pieces. Thanks, too, to my husband, Scott, who has supported me all these years, from my Dad’s diagnosis to the making of this artwork.