Lights! Camera! Action!
I'm making a movie!
Dementia family caregivers come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, but we all share a common denominator: there is something seriously wrong with us to take this job on.
For instance have you ever extracted a pair of reading glasses from your boss’s butt cheeks and still went to work the next day? I have.
And I thought to myself, "This has got to be a first in the history of the world."
My friend, whenever you feel as if no one understands what you're going through, that you are utterly alone in this journey remember you are just one of over 16 million dementia family caregivers in the U.S., literally and metaphorically pulling reading glasses out of butt cheeks all over the country.
I did not understand that in the beginning of my caregiver sojourn. All I knew as I prepared myself for the road ahead was what the media told me: in every article, film, book, and YouTube video the dementia narrative was one of desolation, degradation, and despair from both the POV of the person living with dementia as well as the family caregivers who served them.
That did not improve my caregiving skills. It just made me slam a couple of Zoloft and suck the last drop of wine out of the bottle(s).
But in real life my mother still smiled, laughed, cried - experienced a range of emotions fully even in a diminished cognitive capacity. I realized then that while I did not deny the frustration, anxiety, and heartbreak of the journey, I too was engulfed in the complete spectrum of life presented, and came to rely upon the levity that springs from the absurdities of dementia to make it through my days.
When I began writing Stumped Town Dementia, I found a lot of other caregivers were also employing humor to cope with the heartbreak.
I also found I was making life-long friends virtually; forging deep bonds through dementia disasters and victories; online partners in an experience like no other.
Months before Mom turned her attention to annoying the crap out of the afterlife, I began daydreaming of freedom. These flights of fancy were often sparked by emails, blog comments, or Zoom conversations from you - Stumped Town Dementia readers - mutually improving our days with tee-hees instead of tears. After these interactions I would muse upon what it would be like to have the freedom to meet in person folks who so positively impacted our journey, to embark on a caregiver quest that ends in cheer, comfort, and camaraderie at each destination.
And if I could make such a trip, what if I were to make a documentary out of it? How would seasoned caregivers sharing a bottle of wine whilst regaling each other and an audience with the dementia hilarious and horrid impact the conversation around dementia?
Could it provide a counterbalance to the tragic narrative? Could it offer the newly diagnosed dementia person hope that their loved ones can accompany them down this path sans total devastation? Could it give a fresh-faced caregiver the courage to take on this journey for their loved ones and themselves?
I think it could. I think it can. I think I will.
So, I'm making a movie! The feature documentary Wine, Women, and Dementia is the story of dementia life, not death. Through intimate, humorous, heartfelt conversations we will explore what it means to be a dementia family caregiver; the hilarity, the horror, the devotion that keeps us going. I am beyond excited to meet virtual friends for the first time to share the challenges, solutions, and flat out fuck-ups we’ve experienced as dementia family caregivers.
In doing so, my vision for Wine, Women, and Dementia will let newly minted caregivers, and those families not yet touched by dementia, know that while the journey is tough, tough, tough, it is still doable with a little help and humor from your friends.
I am thrilled.
I have found a new purpose smoldering in the ash heap of my old life. I can't beat dementia, but I can still punch it in the face by sharing with others the accumulated wealth of the caregiver warriors I've come to know - all of us who have, and continue, to slog through the dementia trenches together.
There will be much more information to come as I finalize the route, schedule, budget, and pull together the team that will help my vision find its way to screen. A low-budget documentary needs a village to make it to completion - just like in dementia - we have already laid the foundation, now it's time to construct the story to share with the world.
Wine, Women, and Dementia
Traveling, filming, and causing a major ruckus
in a city near you soon!
(So, if I were you, I'd go on an extended vacation ASAP.)
P.S. I've already secured the closest of my virtual caregiver friends to be the film's formal interviews, and not all of them are women. I just liked the name Wine, Women, and Dementia better than Wine, Women, and Men, and Dementia. Didn't quite trip off the tongue like I wanted.
P.P.S. Drinking wine will also not be a requirement. Again, the title Wine, or Beer, or Tea, or perhaps an Ensure, or Jamba Juice, or really whatever your beverage of choice, and Women, and Dementia didn't much rock my world either.