Sharing Lessons of Alzheimer's Onstage
Alzheimer's slowly took Molly McFadden's mother from her in the 1990s.
More than two decades after her mom's death, the local actor continues to cope with that loss.
Now McFadden takes her story as a caretaker to the stage with her one-woman play "Living on the Moon."
When her mother was stricken it took a psychological toll on McFadden as she attempted to connect with her mother.
"I really did feel like Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatter's tea party. I was completely absorbed and alone in this dark journey."
What makes this show unique is that her deceased mother appears with McFadden onstage as a puppet named "Memory."
Vince Robinson,"Memory" the puppet and Molly McFadden in "Living on the Moon" [photo: Vince Robinson]
"She's a little impish, she has a wonderful, not childlike, I don't want to say childlike, but she has a wonderful personality where she's able to evoke a lot of love from me and encouragement of me and humor," McFadden said.
Listen to "Memory" the puppet perform:
McFadden learned a lot during her mother's final years that she hopes to pass on to her audience.
"Reach out to the community and get support," she advised. "Let people share your burden and share their stories."
It was a very lonely time for McFadden as her mother's memory slowly slipped away.
"You're alone and you can't process it together with your parent. When they have something they can articulate and share with you [for instance], 'Yes, I'm dying of cancer, sucks doesn't it?' There's a shared dialogue there. But with Alzheimer's you're alone, you just keep hitting your head against the wall," she said.
In the play the puppet Memory confides in McFadden that she shouldn't feel guilty about being relieved now that she's gone.
"I think that's hard for anybody," she said. "It's OK to feel good about letting go. You don't have to feel bad about that."
Molly McFadden's "Living on the Moon" is onstage at Ensemble Theater in Cleveland Heights June 14-16.