Looking for some light TV entertainment a couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a 1969-1974 BBC television series I hadn’t watched in many years. It was just what I remembered: zany, high-energy, silly… British humour on steroids! Did I mention silly? It was great fun to watch.
The idea of a Monty Python founder fading gently away is such a Contrast with the person I’ve seen in television and film for much of my life. FTD – Frontotemporal Dementia – brings radical change to a person’s life and the people around them. Over time, usually a relatively short time, the person with FTD changes, eventually to the point of needing constant care. From what I’ve seen and learned, the impact on marriages and families tends to lead to one of three responses:
- Support — Caregiving by family and friends, even when the personality and behavior of the person with FTD becomes challenging as the disease worsens
- Denial — Family members and friends don’t accept the reality of the person’s FTD, saying the symptoms and behaviors are caused by something less serious
- Destruction — Breakup, abandonment of marriages, families who can’t cope with their new reality
In the 10 years since Vicki’s FTD diagnosis, she’s experienced significant changes in her life. Most of the time, she’s doing what she can to fight the disease, to slow it down. (There is no cure.) I love her strength in not wanting to give up and give in. But honestly, there are also many days and seasons when she gets tired of the fight and wonders if she can keep it up. Papa, prayers, and caring family and a few friends keep her going. Vicki is truly blessed. Even at times when it’s hard to find the blessing.
Coming back around to Monty Python and Terry Jones’s recent death because of FTD, as I write this I don’t know details of Terry Jones’s struggle with FTD and subsequent passing. I’ve met people after the passing of a spouse or family member who’ve shared a positive experience of being with their loved one even though it was a difficult and heartbreaking experience. I also know people with FTD who have experienced isolation and suffering without any support after their marriages or family relationships tragically ended.
I hope that Terry Jones was supported and cared for as his life was ending, and that he’s now experiencing true peace.
And I am profoundly grateful for the Grace and support that Vicki experiences in our long journey with FTD.
Thank you, Papa.