Finding The Gift

Finding The Gift by Cal Campbell for CareLiving.org

When your father is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, doctors give you a long and depressing list of things to expect. He’ll forget your name and then, eventually, who you are entirely. There won’t be any more chats or heart-to-hearts or fatherly advice. He won’t tell (and retell) you funny stories of things that you said or did as a kid year after year. He won’t walk you down the aisle or spoil, or even know, his grandchildren – and you have to just accept this… PLUS the upcoming work that it will take to make sure that he’s comfortable and safe and well taken care of as his condition worsens… PLUS all of the medical knowledge that you have to absorb to better understand the disease. Yet even with all of that said – they still don’t prepare you for one more thing: Gifts.

There wont be any more birthday gifts or ‘recycled’ holiday cards with the words crossed out and changed to “Happy Birthday.” (Something Glen was known to do.) You’ll never shake a box with your name on it under the tree and wonder what’s inside – it won’t be there. No more spur of the moment trips to the movies or dinner, and you’ll never have to worry if he’ll ask you to go hit golf balls with him at a ridiculously early hour in the morning – he won’t. He’ll never surprise you by showing up at one of your performances or by giving you an old record to listen to, one that meant a lot to him when he was your age.

It’s the thought that counts.

This statement was never more true than when it’s the thought that’s missing.

It’s easy to remember and rationalize that the lack of giving isn’t out of anger or spite, but that he’s just gone. Alzheimer’s has robbed both him and me of these little moments that make life so wonderful. It’s easy to remember this, but very hard to accept.

Finding the gift.

As a musician, one of my main coping mechanisms is through song. I picked up my guitar one afternoon to try and forget some of the pain of having a father with Alzheimer’s – even just for a few minutes – and as I strummed a chord and opened my mouth to sing, the gift appeared before me. The room suddenly filled and echoed with gifts, with memories, with familiar sounds and tones of home. My father’s gift is inside of me and presents itself every time I sing a note with the same inflections as he would have, or in the same range or style. Even the enjoyment of music itself is a gift that was clearly handed down, and one that is more valuable than anything for sale in any store.

These gifts were given to me at birth and are given to me again and again, ANY time I need or want them.

Cal Campbell and Glen Campbell for CareLiving.org

 

When I look in the mirror and see his eyes or jawline in my reflection, when I sing harmonies with my brother and sister, when I hear his voice on the radio and it sounds more like an old home movie than a hit record – those are the gifts that he will always and forever be giving.

This year’s birthday gift from my father will be the same as it’s been for the last 6 years. Another year of living my life as a musician and producer, of enjoying the privilege of playing and singing and providing enjoyment and entertainment for myself and others as my way of life and career. I get another year to spend with my family, who are all working hard on their own projects while helping other families who are going through the same thing as we are. And for now, as long as he is still here in body and spirit, the gift of another year with my father.

– Cal Campbell

51 Comments

  1. Becky Holman says:

    This is beautiful Cal. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Robert L Norberg says:

    Very nice

  3. Shirel Dean says:

    My heart goes out to you and your whole family. Cherish the music and memories…they are gifts that last forever!

  4. Kim Bullard says:

    Love you, Cal

  5. Dawn Brown says:

    Precious memories. Beautifully said. Prayers are with you for strength.

  6. Angela Moncus says:

    How beautifully put. Fills my heart that through all of the struggle you have found a light, a gift. ❤️

  7. So true. My mom too is suffering from Alzheimer’s. It is heartening to read your blog. I look for the gifts with my mom instead of focusing on what I don’t get/have with her. I will always have her with me, inside of me. That is comforting when I am angry about this horrible disease and what it has done to her. Stay strong.

  8. Susan reed says:

    Cal, i think you just gave your dad his own special birthday gift, one that cant be bought, one to treasure.

  9. Barbara (Bonnie) Judd says:

    A wonderful wonderful man, who has given the world a gift of his music and his voice…He will forever be hin my heart and the hearts of many every time you hear his voice…I have as many CD s as I could get, and listen to them when I can.
    God bless this lovely gentle man….and gentleman….

  10. Roxanne Kitzman says:

    Beautifully said. Thank you Cal. We love you and your family!

  11. Dena Freeman says:

    Cal, thanks for sharing this. I remember watching it when it first aired and was a pleasure watching it again. You sure do look like your beautiful mom in this clip.

  12. Jody Clayton Carpenter says:

    This so so beautiful … we are going through the same thing with my husband .. it’s a long good-bye but some precious moments & memories in between ..

  13. Melody R Keeter says:

    Thank you for this!My oldest sister is suffering with the same disease and now I have something else to look for in the “good”.We used to sing together and laugh a lot-her home became the “family” home after our parents passed-now we no longer have that-but the memories are still there for out “gifts”.

  14. Tami Robertson says:

    Wow, I absolutely love this. Absolutely beautiful!

  15. Jennifer Newell says:

    Such loving sentiment from a place of true understanding. God bless you and all of your family.

  16. Helen Weatherley says:

    Such a moving picture and article Cal.God bless you and all your family.

  17. Sending prayers, love and strength to Glen and the family–from a fan

  18. Your gift is the memory of all the stories , songs and travels that you witnessed. God bless

  19. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing

  20. Thanks for sharing with us, Cal.

  21. Shannon Baker says:

    Thank you for sharing. We lost my both of my grandparents to this horrible disease 42 hours apart. The hardest part was when Granddad no longer knew who a grandma was. We were lucky that they were able to be back together in the same room at the end. We miss them but they are together where they always have been. Thank you for sharing your story. It does help with healing. This is a terrible disease. My prayers and heart go out to you and your family. Mr. Campbell has always been one of my favorite country western stars.

  22. Joy Colberg says:

    Cal, I know what you and your family are going through as my Mom suffered from this horrible disease also. I’m glad you have memories of your dad that will make you smile and will make you cry and sometimes both at the same time. And when you look in the mirror and are reminded of your dad, it will be a blessing to you. Praying that God will comfort you in this time.

  23. Donna Meyer says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

  24. Aaron Ruffcorn says:

    Well said, Cal. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Love ya, man.

  25. This was great. Great job drumming too. Quite impressive. Love your Dad’s music.
    Carry on his wonderful legacy.

  26. Anita Roberts says:

    Cal I so feel for you and your family. My brother who has downs syndrome has dimentia. Its so sad to see him this way plus my mom and dad are trying to look after him, but is so hard because my mom is almost 85 and my dad is 82.

  27. Debbie Weger says:

    For the past 16 years, I have led a support group for caregivers of love ones with Alzheimer’s Disease and other diseases that had dementia. My prayers are with you and your family and for Mr. Campbell. He is such a gifted person and you all have been blessed as being a family. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for all you do. I am walking this journey with so many, but I also walk this journey with my mother. My prayers are with you.

  28. Mother had Alzheimer’s and we never knew if she would know who we were. Most of the time she didn’t. She became very good at pretending she knew who we were, but for 10 years she didn’t have a clue. It is hard on us to not be able to connect with her but I can only imagine how hard it was for her. My advice is just be grateful for the time you have with your loved one. Know they took care of you as a child and now it is you turn. It is hard. You have everything they taught you and all the stories they told you growing up. It really doesn’t hurt us to live in the past for a few minutes remembering these things. Don’t dwell on what was or what might have been remember what was. Love them and let God handle the big stuff. May god bless you and yours.

  29. Kim jennings says:

    I moved home and took care of my mother in her final stages. It was tough, but I cherished every moment. I remember my sister-in-law asking me the week before mothers day if she should do anything since she didn’t know, and I told her she might not know what day it was, but for 1 minute she might be happy. Good enough for me. We all gave her a flower plant one by one, and she was elated. Didnt last long, but that 1 minute was good enough for me. Cherish each moment and keep making those memories. If only for a minute, they will last a lifetime. God bless!

  30. kim Darigan says:

    Very nicely expressed, Cal!

  31. Sue Burnett says:

    My heart goes out to you. My mom suffered from this disease for 10 years before God called her home. Cherish the memories.

  32. Beautiful, my mom also had the terrible disease which lasted for 15 years from diagnosis till death. She was diagnosed at 59 years old, early they told us. I understand now so much more than then. She never got to know her grandchildren or greats. Your dad has brought so much joy to the world, my favorite being, There oughta be a Hall of Fame for Mama’s,. God Bless you and your family as you make your way through this journey,

  33. Beverly Renken says:

    Having lost my mom in November, this really hit home. I was living in Florida and Mom was in Texas but I talked to her every day by phone. After a while I noticed a few little warning signs. I asked her Doctor to check her for dementia. He said she was fine. That was about 10 years ago. Seven years ago I moved back to Texas to care for my mom. That was a long trip into Altzheimers that I lived every day!! He finally admitted she had dementia about two years ago. That disease is absolutely horrific both for the patient and the caregiver. It is worse than cancer in my mind.

    Your dad was always one of my favorites and I cry with you. I know how hard it is to watch them change before your eyes. How to feel like you must protect them from doing or saying the wrong thing. How you don’t know what to say when they ask if they are losing their mind. My heart breaks for anyone with this cruel, cruel disease. My prayers are with you and your family.

  34. Sherrill Herke says:

    My father just passed from Alzheimer’s. Thank you for sharing.

  35. Cheryl Turner says:

    Such beautiful words. Thank you for posting

  36. I have received updates on Glenn from His wife/ media so have been watching all the you tube videos I can , I don’t know how this happens to people but it is heartbreaking. I have cried and cried over the fact he doesn’t know what people say, and can’t communicate. I’m so glad he has had His beautiful wife to ground him all these yrs.His song to her about not remembering just is so emotional I can’t even!!. Love and prayers for the Campbell family. Thanks For the gift Glenn. I loved this his son wrote. Tears

  37. Tracey Kitchen-Fussell says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll keep you , your father , and the rest of your family in my prayers.
    I too am my mothers caregiver. She’s a 4 1/2 of 7 with alzheimers. I am 53 and doing this all by myself. (Brothers are no help)
    It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

  38. Thank you Cal for sharing your message and the awesome video of you and Glen on TV. You are an amazing son Cal!!

  39. Very touching! I remember seeing Glen in Ft Wayne, Indiana in approx 1970 when I was around 9, he was with Jerry Reed. Prior to his Concert was a contest over the radio, about ten different voices came on saying…”HI! I’M GLEN CAMPBELL” and if you guessed which voice was actually Glen, you won FREE tickets! Glen Campbell was AND IS and ALWAYS will be one of my Favorites! Singer,Celebrity,Guitar player,and fellow Country style all around Great guy!
    My prayers to Glen and his family! God Bless You!

  40. Beautiful my Aunt and Uncle from Delight, Arkansas passed from Alzheimer’s disease.

  41. Truly precious Cal! Thank you

  42. Gail Hedrick says:

    Dear Cal, your words touched me, tonight, as I read your beautifully written post regarding your Dad’s Alz.’s. Cal, my own 82 year old husband, also, was diagnosed with Alz.’s, three years ago. He still knows all of us, he has problems walking. On June 22, 2017, my husband decided to go for a walk, unfortunately, Cal, he wandered away, beyond our five acres property & finally, after looking, alone & with a neighbor, was forced to call 911. Fortunately, Cal, he was found by a stream, it was hot out, 111 degrees & he had no water. A helicopter discovered him laying down to rest, as he got tired. He was checked out at the hospital, & gratefully, was just fine, (he had been gone two & one half hours. We got him a GPS watch & he now knows never to walk, alone, only with me, Cal. This changed our lives, I am with him, for the most part, now, almost 24/7. At Nite we have alarms on the doors, so, if he ever would get up in the Nite, our doors will screech. It is our new normal & we both are just grateful, Cal, for each day the Good Lord Blesses us with.).

    Cal, just know we are holding your entire family up in our prayers. We both have received allot of joy from listening to your Dad’s CD, Adios. We have been life long fan’s of your Father, Cal.

    In Christ’s Love,

    Gail and Leon Hedrick

  43. Teresa Busch says:

    To all of Mr. Campbell’s kids & grandkids & great grandkids, my heart goes out to you! Me and my sisters lost our dad last year to same horrible disease. God keep you strong and lift you up. We use to sing all your dad’s songs with our dad & mom! I felt like I lost my dad all over again when I hear your dad passed today! Take care and remember him always as we will our dad and yours!

  44. Karin Brennan says:

    Hi, Cal…my heart is with you and your family today. I know exactly how you feel. I lost my wonderful, brilliant father in January to this terrible disease. Like your journey, mine included saying goodbye to phonecalls, then cards, then wishing me a Happy Birthday, then finally to not knowing me at all. But, I now see him in so many wonderful memories and I feel him because I share many of his traits and abilities. So, like you, I can now see how my father’s gifts continue to enrich my life every day. The sadness is there, but so is the wealth he left behind. All the best to you and God speed to your dad.

  45. Betty Nelson says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad! Trust I can be as positive and heartwarming when the times comes. Thank you for sharing!

  46. Sam Koski Jones says:

    So beautiful, your father shared the gift with all of us. His voice and the words of the songs he sang I loved from about the age of 5. God bless you and your family.

  47. true gentleman musician and lives his boy he stays in time with his son even tho its off and he then proceeds to play worse than his son as to not make the boy feel and sound bad, WOW! good on ya Glen!

  48. Dianne Mullikin says:

    Thank you Cal for sharing this. I’m so sorry for your and your family’s loss. Your father touched so many with his songs over the years and then later those who are going through similar experiences.

    My father has Alzheimer’s/Dementia. It has not been easy and I expect it to only get worse. I have been so inspired watching what you and your family went through and what we can expect. So Thank you for being so public with something so personal.

  49. What a beautiful tribute to your dad🙏😪

Leave a Comment