I Remember Better When I Paint is an inspiring documentary about reaching out to men and women living with Alzheimer’s through the art and craft of painting, drawing and museum visits.
My mother died of Alzheimer’s in 2004. One of the most powerful memories I have of the last two years of her life is an afternoon we spent together coloring in line drawings of flower arrangements with crayons. My mother loved flowers, she loved gardening, she loved nature. And although she had entirely lost her ability to have a conversation with me, she retained the desire to communicate, chattering away in a language of repeated words and phrases with tremendous enthusiasm and energy, trying to connect, trying to be heard, trying to maintain contact.
But when I put a crayon in her hands and directed her attention to a coloring book, she became focused, concentrated and precise, coloring in the leaves with green, the stalks with brown, the flower blossoms with vibrant color…the flower centers often with black! The look on her face was one of joy and childlike satisfaction. She was calm and energized all at the same time.
There is no one who can tell me, as so many are told of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, that “there was no one in there any more.” My mother could be reached through art and music, and I know that these therapies could help so many others, if more people simply knew about their power and had access to information and training.
I Remember Better When I Paint, which was directed by Eric Ellena and Berna Huebner (in France and the United States) is narrated by Olivia de Havilland (yes that Oliva de Havilland…of Gone With the Wind, The Heiress and Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte).
Although the movie came out in 2009, it is being shown in New York on PBS today at 2:30 (I know, I know it’s the Super Bowl)…but then again in the New York Tri-State area on Monday, February 6 at 10:00 pm, Saturday, February 11 at 5:00pm on channel WLIW21 and Friday, February 17 at 10:00pm on channel NJTV.
If you can’t see it, log onto the film’s website to learn more about art therapy and how it might help someone you know who is living with any form of cognitive dementia or memory loss. You’ll be glad you did.
Thank you for reading, as always…