How Great Thou Art

Last night, I listened to RTE radio’s ‘Documentary on One‘ and was completely blown away by ‘The Long Goodbye’, a hugely moving documentary on Alzheimer’s disease. It was first broadcast in January 2007 and has since won a silver medal at this year’s New York Media Festival. The documentary follows the daily routine of a couple who have been married for 44 years but who’s lives have been changed dramatically in recent years, due to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Seven years ago May started mislaying her handbag and amounts of money and her husband Matt noticed that she would start to cry during the day. She was diagnosed with depression but after a year and a half, it finally emerged that May had Alzheimer’s disease.

On the verge of his retirement, Matt was now facing a new journey with his wife May, as her carer. The couple moved from their home in London back to her hometown in the midlands.

As May’s illness has progressed, the couple have swapped roles. Matt has taken over all domestic tasks, a world he never inhabited during the first few decades of their marriage. As her carer and husband, Matt acts as May’s voice and is her rock.

This documentary looks at the relationship between Matt and May, as May’s ability to communicate decreases with progression of the illness while Matt’s responsibilities for her care continue.”

Compiled and presented by Sarah Neville
Production Supervision Liam O’Brien

Click here to listen to the documentary.

RealPlayer is required to open. Fast forward to 2.23 minutes and prepare to be blown away by the power of love. And as Matt would say “play every day as it comes.” Who knows what the future holds?

With thanks to RTE Radio One.

5 Responses to How Great Thou Art

  1. Baino says:

    At least May had someone there to support her. My friend’s mother is in a nursing home in Wollongong, her disenfranchised husband in Sydney and her family no longer visit because she doesn’t recognise them. It always seemed cruel and unusual for them to think of themselves rather than their mother. Then I haven’t had to face it myself. If it was my mother, I’d go visit even if she thought me a stranger.

  2. Steph says:

    Thanks Baino

    I don’t know whether or not you got to listen to the documentary but that husband Matt, deserves a sainthood. I know I would not have the patience to look after my own mother 24/7. His total dedication to May is exemplary. I just hope he stays well himself as he must be under enormous stress even though this wasn’t portrayed in the documentary.

    I know I could never abandon my mother. That is unthinkable to me although I can see why it could happen. I’m lucky in that I get to spend ‘quality’ time with my mother in the Alzheimer’s unit and then I can drive away leaving her in safe hands, knowing that I’ve brightened her day for the time I was with her.

    For anyone who is wondering about the significance of the title of this post, let me explain. May still attends church with her husband as part of her daily routine. All her life she loved the hymn “How great thou Art”. Her speech is unintelligible most of the time but when that hymn is sung in church, May sings the words perfectly. How uncanny is that? To me, it’s like May’s way of communicating with the world and more especially, with Matt.

  3. Mike says:

    Well done for highlighting this Steph

  4. Dragonfly says:

    Thanks for linking to that. MUst ilsten to it.

  5. Steph says:

    Hello! Dragonfly and welcome!

    Sorry to take so long to get back to you. I’m on holiday in the wilds of Connemara (W. Ireland) at the moment and am struggling a bit with a poor internet connection.

    I hope you managed to open that link to the interview on Alzheimer’s. It’s uplifting stuff rather than depressing as you might imagine.

    I look forward to spending some time reading your blog, just as soon as I get home to having a broadband signal again. I had a quick peek and I can see we share come common traits!

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