79: Hidden Talents

79: Hidden Talents

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

Hidden Talents

Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.

~Doris Lessing

It is still hard to believe, but my family and I only discovered my father’s amazing artistic talent after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Before age eighty-nine, he had no interest in painting a room, let alone a landscape.

Five years after his diagnosis, Dad began attending an Alzheimer’s-based community day care center. During a painting class, the facilitator played music and used an Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making art program to stimulate Dad’s thought process. In no time, my father picked up a paintbrush for the first time and created his own form of artistic poetry.

Those who have seen my father’s pictures can hardly believe them. The paintings are beautifully composed, colorful, and evoke memories of my grandmother and mother’s flower gardens. My sisters and I now know where we get our artistic tendencies — before, we had no clue.

With support and encouragement from friends, my family and I are working to preserve my father’s artistic legacy and help others living with Alzheimer’s. We created notecards featuring four of his paintings and offer them at Alzheimer’s-related events all around the state. Our family has raised thousands of dollars for the Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Virginia Chapter.

An unexpected yet gratifying outcome of my father’s diagnosis has been my involvement in the Memories in the Making art program. I am now a trained facilitator who travels to memory care facilities to help residents create amazing pieces of art. The stories they share while painting, and their sense of accomplishment, give me so much satisfaction. I know my father would be proud of me. Without him, none of this would have happened.

My family and I are not only raising donations and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, but we are also looking to provide hope to caregivers and family members of those affected. The message is a powerful one: There may be another dimension to their loved ones that has yet to be discovered!

~Marjorie Hilkert

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