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Enable Me Theatre: Mindful Memory Masters

The Greatest Performance of My Life

By Marcia Norris and L.A. Walker

I share my journey as L.A. Walker. The news that my spouse might forget my name was a shock, something I couldn’t fathom. I pushed that fear deep down, convincing myself it was impossible. I continued living with my loved one as if nothing had changed. We built businesses, traveled together, worked on community projects, wrote plays, and produced shows. We shared laughter, prayers, and tears. I was sure my love would never forget my name. I pushed aside her inability to remember her character’s two lines or not quite finding center stage even after weeks of rehearsals.

However, my worst fear eventually became a harsh reality. It wasn’t simply that my spouse forgot my name; it was when she looked directly into my eyes and asked, “Where’s L.A.? What happened to L.A.?” Being unrecognized by someone I had spent 28 years with was one of the cruelest blows of dementia. I couldn’t hold back the tears that poured down my face, the kind that distorts your features and makes it difficult to breathe as sobs wrack your body.

That night, as tears distorted my face and snot flowed freely, I found solace in prayer. I poured my heart out, even though I couldn’t find the words that fully expressed my deepest desires. I pleaded for strength, understanding, and a glimmer of hope in this heart-wrenching situation.

The following morning, as the sun’s rays gently crept through the window, I was abruptly brought back to reality by the sound of my name. “L.A., wake up, you’re snoring.” It was a moment of relief and confusion. Startled, I wiped away the remnants of my tears and tried to gather my thoughts.

As I opened my eyes, I saw my loved one standing there, a hint of a smile on her lips. At that moment, I realized that while dementia had stolen some memories, it hadn’t taken away the essence of our connection. Even during this heartbreaking journey, there were still glimpses of familiarity and love.

With gratitude and trepidation, I smiled and replied, “Good morning.” It was a small victory, a reminder that despite the challenges ahead, there would still be moments of joy and connection amidst the uncertainty of dementia.

Those early years of acting classes would now pay off. Somedays, being a care partner is all improv.

L.A. Walker is the co-executive Director of Social Issues Theatre (, co-author of the Enable Me Theatre pilot program, and host of the podcast “Up is Higher Than Down.” Follow on Facebook @ socialissuestheatre and @ upishigher.

Marcia Norris and L.A. Walker
Marcia Norris and L.A. Walker
Marcia Norris and L.A. Walker, Executive Directors of Social Issues Theatre, have spearheaded the Enable Me Theatre pilot program. Drawing from their personal experiences – Norris's ongoing care for her mother and Walker's journey alongside her late spouse's battle with Lewy Body Dementia – they are committed to addressing the holistic needs of the dementia community. They understand the importance of caregivers finding ways to connect with their loved ones daily. Persons with dementia deserve to continue enjoying fulfilling lives filled with creativity, passion, and joy, even as their memory changes. Unfortunately, the diagnosis often leads to isolation, robbing patients of opportunities for expression and enjoyment. The Enable Me Theatre pilot program not only offers a fresh perspective on dementia caregiver/partner relations but also provides tools to foster harmony between patients and caregivers. By emphasizing collaboration and meaningful engagement, it aims to enhance the quality of life for all involved in the dementia journey. The Enable Me Theatre Pilot Program aims to revolutionize dementia care by integrating therapeutic theatre techniques into the lives of those affected by Alzheimer's and related ADRDs. It will acquaint caregivers/partners with tools that will support them in providing mindful and patient care. Through a series of interactive workshops, participants can tap into their creativity, engage in storytelling, and experience the joy and relaxation of actively participating in theatre productions.
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