This Thanksgiving, as we cherish our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles who gave so much and did so much for us, I want to thank again my mother Jean whose art opened the eyes of so many to the simple resilience of the human spirit.
And here is another story of love and artistry shared with us by Ivan Neaigus, loving husband of Sarah Letitia Wallace.
In 2001 Sarah was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Sarah passed in July 2012.
As the illness progressed we went thru the many levels of denial. It was around the time of attending the Senior Center groups that the seeds of acceptance began to kick in. With the support of new friends and the Alzheimer’s community our journey moved in a much more positive direction.
More and more it became clear to me that mindfulness, meditation, and loving compassion was very much needed. We walked regularly, and attended meditation at the Tahoma Zen Monastery, I took Sarah to free form expression dance sessions, and with a little help Sarah continued her art..
The illness took its toll. Sarah became more lethargic to the point where she discontinued to do her Art. In November of 2005 with the input of the studies by Dr Cameron Camp, I reorganized Sarah’s studio into a shared working space. Recognizing that people afflicted with Alzheimer’s are more comfortable having company.
I placed two tables side by side, set up the lights, organized the music, and made the studio comfortable. I then laid out the paper, sharpened the pencils, and sorted them by color. The work began, and #1 was done in 2 days. I was so AMAZED. I immediately gave her a new piece of paper. Thus a new series of work, Art in Transition was in process.
Sarah’s passion was Art. There is something that is able to resonate and connect with every person afflicted with Alzheimer’s or any other problem. It could be the visual arts, the performing arts, music, the previous profession, or whatever. I feel this experience has helped me to understand more about myself, and has inspired me to share the legacy of Sarah’s work, and our story to others facing the challenge of being a caregiver..
I feel that being in the here and now, based on sincerity and compassion, would give the caregiver tools of endearment to sustain the situation in a positive and creative way. The purpose is to move a NEGATIVE into a LOVING POSITIVENESS. The one to one approach and the community input are very important, and as the saying goes “It takes a village to make a village”
THE ART WORK BEFORE AND DURING ALZHEIMER’S, THE EDITORIALS, AND THE STORY, CAN BE SEEN ON THE WEBSITE, www.art-in-transition.com
Thank you for sharing, Ivan Neaigus