Caring for a Rhinestone Cowboy

Glen Campbell's wife, Kim, on caring for a husband with Alzheimer's

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Posted in , Oct 24, 2014

Caring for a Rhinestone Cowboy

Glen Campbell’s wife, Kim, stopped by the Guideposts office the other day to talk about the challenges of caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s and the just-released documentary, "Glen Campbell, I'll Be Me," about his final concert tour.

To begin, here's our video interview with her:

There was a bittersweet irony seeing Kim again.

Twenty years ago I interviewed Glen and Kim in Branson, Missouri, where Glen had his own theater at the time. They’d agreed to do an article together for Guideposts about how they had worked through a difficult period in their marriage.

I was in a difficult period myself. My mother had been showing troubling signs of dementia. Her father and her two older sisters had died of Alzheimer’s. Now it was Mom who was having the telltale symptoms, and I was having a hard time dealing with it.

I’d prayed that maybe the disease would skip her, that it would pass over like some dark angel. But it hadn’t.

Kim and Glen were very generous with their time, especially Kim. Glen was a little antsy. It was his day off from performing and during the interview he increasingly cast longing gazes out the window of their condo at the nearby fairways. Glen loves golf almost as much as he loves God, Kim and music.

Finally I had mercy on him and said I was through with my questions. Glen couldn’t get to his golf bag fast enough, but Kim and I had another cup of coffee. At the end of our conversation I apologized if I seemed distracted and told her about my mother. She said she’d pray for me and my family.

Twenty years later, and 14 years after Mom died of the disease, here was Kim talking to one of our staffers and being interviewed on video about how heartbreaking it was to care for someone you loved who had Alzheimer’s, a disease that steals our memories and strips us of our humanity, a disease unlike any other. 

Anyone who has seen someone they love or even know go through it will never forget it. Well, I take that back. Maybe they will. Until there is a cure.

Kim’s story is part of our 2015 editorial series on caregiving. In many ways we have become a nation of caregivers. Who isn’t caring for someone? An aging parent, a sick spouse, a disabled child, a struggling veteran, a rescued animal.  

And as difficult as these challenges are they can also provide profound moments of inspiration and grace. Sometimes it is through caring for others that we find healing in ourselves and a deepening of our faith. These are the stories we will tell, including Kim and Glen’s.

Lastly, here is a link to Glen’s last music video–an incredibly moving song–and a preview of the documentary.

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