It was red carpet time in Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre at the recent Oscar ceremony with Hollywood’s stars vying with one another for the most striking outfits – as usual. Birdman emerged as the overall winner – no surprise there. And no surprise either for the best actress award – Julianne Moore for her role in “Still Alice”.
Moore plays Alice Howland, a linguistics professor who realises something is wrong when she starts to forget words and is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film accompanies Alice and her family as they struggle to adapt to this changing reality and the transformation in their relationships caused by the illness and the corresponding need for care-giving.
It’s a film that should resonate in many, many peoples’ lives. Like it or not, as the post-war “baby-boomers” generation ages and medical science hugely extends our life expectancy, caring for ageing relatives, including those in various stages of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, will become more and more part of “normal” family life. The role of both family care-givers and professionals are crucial to sufferers’ later years.
The pain of Alzheimer’s, of course, is found in losing a loved one before they actually pass away. As memory fades and with it recognition even of close family, it is all too easy easy to lose sight of the person that was and hard to maintain the same level of love and care. Even without Alzheimer’s, though, there’s so much we all forget. How many times have you met a person and thought “I’m sure I recognize them but can’t think where from…”?
But God never forgets. In a striking passage written by one of Israel’s prophets, God reminds us:
“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? Never! But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”
That means you. Yes you. Whatever your situation, however dark the world may seem and however much you may feel that no one understands or cares, God has not forgotten you, and never will. Ever.