Glen Campbell, beloved country music star and “Rhinestone Cowboy”, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. He passed away on August 8, 2017.
Throughout his life, Glen demonstrated how the power of love, laughter and music helped him overcome many obstacles. Today, his widow Kim Campbell continues to celebrate Glen’s legacy. Here she shares an excerpt from her new book, released June 23, entitled “Gentle On My Mind: In Sickness and in Health With Glen Campbell,” chronicling their bond and the challenges they faced while navigating Glen’s brave battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Glen moved to Abe’s Garden. I felt I had no choice. The sad truth is that my adversaries made it impossible for me to care for Glen at home even if I could have. If he fell, I feared they’d claim I’d pushed him. If he died, I feared they’d accuse me of killing him. Thankfully, Abe’s Garden would do more than keep Glen safe; it would keep me safe as well.
I had done what was best for Glen, me and our children. I climbed into bed that night with peace of mind. I wasn’t breaking my marriage vows; I was keeping them. I was taking care of my husband “in sickness,” as I had “in health.”
I soon became friends with Vicki Bartholomew, whose husband, Sam, once a prominent lawyer, had become one of Abe’s first residents along with Glen. Vicki and I saw each other every day while visiting our husbands. We hoped that Glen and Sam would become friends and enjoy each other’s company. That hope was completely squelched when Sam saw Glen in an altercation with Matt and Brody. Glen needed to pee and the boys were trying to lead him to the bathroom but he did not want to go with them. Glen roared at them and gave Brody a big shove. Matt and Brody had become Sam’s buddies, and Sam, a West Point man and brawny former football player, was not about to let anything happen to them. He puffed up his chest and rushed over to rescue them. The boys defused the situation beautifully, but from that time on Sam did not like Glen. One day Vicki tried to walk Sam over to visit with us, but Sam stopped in his tracks and warned Vicki sternly, “Stay away from that guy. He’s already killed two people!” Vicki and I just had to chuckle about the absurdity of it all.
Something about Abe’s Garden soothed Glen’s soul. Part of that was due to his fascinating neighbors. One woman who had been a concert pianist still played magnificently. Another fine musician had worked as a conductor and arranger for Disney. Because he had a hard time with language, he made the sounds and motions of playing a trombone, a trumpet, or a xylophone — all to tell you to have a nice day. Glen and I both enjoyed our new eclectic and eccentric group of friends.
I never say I “put” or “placed” my husband in a “home” or “facility.” Those terms feed a negative stigma that keeps people from getting the help they need. I say, “Our family joined a memory care community.” It was our community, too. We lived each day with families on the same journey. We laughed together, cried together, prayed together and supported each other. If this disease becomes too difficult to manage at home, being part of a quality memory care community should be your first choice, not your last resort.
Part of my self-care entailed participating in a support group with women losing their mates to dementia. Like me, like everyone, they required compassion. And they needed to know that they were not alone. This led me to start a blog called CareLiving.org, to encourage caregivers to care for themselves while caring for others.
Helping others helped me.
Copyright © 2020 by Kim Campbell. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com
Photo of Kim and Glen in London in 2008 courtesy of Kim Campbell.
About: Kim Campbell was married to Glen Campbell for 35 years before his passing in 2017. As a devoted mother, wife and caregiver, Kim has made it her mission to improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their families. You can purchase the hardcover or audiobook of “Gentle On My Mind: In Sickness and in Health With Glen Campbell” here.