Last night, Kari took me to get my nails done and then we went out to dinner. It was a great way to end a nice day. I also ended it without writing a post, so decided I'd go with happy things. Like this.
The title of this post is from a poem by Tanya Howden. There is so much to be learned and read about Alzheimer's and its cruelties. I loved what Joe said. I think you will, too. My thanks to him, and to "T. S." and her family for allowing me to share it. - Liz
Alzheimer's is a thief.
It is a lowly thief that steals beautiful minds.
I know a strong, vibrant, intelligent, and outgoing woman.
This woman speaks several languages. She is an amazing chef. She is a terrific hostess. She has a vast knowledge of words, places and etiquette.
This lowly thief, Alzheimer's, has locked all of this women's attributes in a vault. A vault in her own mind. Those things are still there, they're just under lock and key. This key holder is a thief, and he will never reopen it.
I've read articles about this wonderful woman. I've heard a million stories from her children. She has told me many things about her life that the thief has yet to take from her.
I look in her eyes...eyes that have seen and experienced so many things...but those eyes no longer possess the depth they once held.
I'll ask about one of her past accomplishments. She smiles, but can't remember. She wants to remember. She tries...but that thing, that thief, just sits back and laughs as he dangles the key.
She asks questions. Questions that she should already know the answers. Questions she has asked before...maybe many times in succession.
To her, it is the first time she has asked. For us, it's hard to not seem exasperated...she has to think we're rude to not want to be bothered by a simple question.
The thief laughs.
She can't throw things away. We question her, but she doesn't know why...she just has to keep them.
The thief knows why...and smiles
We have to wait until she showers to wash her clothes because she's afraid to let us take them.
It laughs, again.
Well, thief, you HAVEN'T won! You haven't won because WE remember!
We remember the great mom she was.
We remember the great hostess she was.
We remember the great teacher she was.
We remember the great friend she was.
We remember her love and her compassion.
She would have always been kind to any of us, had it been one of us whose mind you had treacherously stolen.
This beautiful mind you have stolen, you thief, still has her beautiful soul.
She still loves, and appreciates, and she is so kind. You can't take that, you thief. And you can't
take our memories of her.
One day, she will leave us...and she will get back that key, because she will be in a place that no longer permits you to lock up her memories.
Until then, you will never win, because we will always remember...and you can't steal that from us.
His name is Kurt, "our Kurt," and he is as much the heart of the Ole Olsen Memorial Theater as is the building itself, the plays and shows that have given such pleasure for all these many years, the stage at the front of the building that echoes with the emotions that are left there.
I can't believe he's gone. His illness was fast and furious and left so many of us aching with loss and sorrow. And laughing. Because wherever Kurt Schindler was, laughter was there, too. And love. As dearly as we all loved him is how much he loved us in return.
Because I was so fascinated by the world of community theater, he asked me to be part of the production of A Christmas Carol in 2017. I was undoubtedly one of the worst assistant directors ever, but I have memories that will stay with me forever.
As do we all.
From Angel Williams: My darling Kurt... it is hard for me to find the words at this moment. Since we first had our bonding moments on stage nearly 14 years ago, you have been my collaborator, my partner in creativity, my dear friend, and my beloved chosen Family. Rehearsals and performances, late nights preparing, phone calls, gazebo time, dinners and road trips, doing the hustle, and my wedding, just to name a few...Cherished memories that I will always carry with me. We saw each other through tremendous joys and deep sadnesses. I am struggling to imagine this world without you in it. Although my heart is broken to lose you, I am forever thankful for the time we had together and that you are no longer in pain. I have no question that you love me and I know that you always knew how much I love and adore you. You had me sing this at Bill's funeral...and no truer words could be shared now that you are gone: "It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part: so much of me is made of what I learned from you. You'll be with me like a handprint on my heart. And now, whatever way our stories end, I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend." "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good." I love you, honey.
“Kurt’s Role as Otto Frank”
I had the pleasure of directing Kurt
Schindler in his last role on the Ole stage.He pursued the role of Otto Frank from checking out a script to read
early before auditions to researching Otto Frank’s story.
He was the perfect choice for Otto Frank.
Just as Otto was the anchor for the residents of the Secret Annex, Kurt was the
anchor for our Secret Annex Ole family on stage.He enjoyed working with the Ole veterans in
the show and relished having Brandi Davis, a veteran performer but a newcomer
from Elwood to Ole.He was particularly
fond of working with Kiley Stiers and our Ole newcomer Carsten Loe.He wanted success for all of our young actorsand made suggestions to each for their
characters, and he so enjoyed interacting with them on stage.He was their father figure.Kurt and I both valued a positive “family”
relationship among our cast, and he put in the extra effort to make our cast a
No show with Kurt would be complete without
laughter and inside jokes, and The Diary of Anne Frank cast had a terrific
balance of laughter and tears.It was
not an easy show for Kurt because, as we realized afterwards, his pain and
difficulty with memory were a result of his cancer, but playing the role of the
historic icon,Otto Frank, and telling the story of all the residents in the
Secret Annex took precedence over all he was suffering.His last role and performance on the Ole
Stage were exactly what he wanted, and his Otto Frank was excellent!
Kurt and I were from the HIGH SCHOOL graduating
class of 1985. Although we did not go to
school together, we enjoyed the same music, a love of theatre, as well as the
shows from the past. We became close
friends. When he was President of Ole
Olsen, I was his Vice President. We
trusted one another with our secrets, and our past. As far as friends go, he was a rare gem.
He had a faith in me like no
other. Kurt inspired me to be a better
actress, singer, and director. I will
always recall thinking, that COFFEE, by Cole Porter, was WAY out of my
range. I said something to him, and he
said, “Well you’re hittin’ the notes!!” I
thought casting me to play Susan Boyle was crazy, but he assured me that I
could do it. When I didn’t have faith in
myself, he had enough faith for the both of us.
His calm in the eye of a theatre
storm was quite impressive. Everyone
loved him and wanted to make him proud.
I rarely saw his feathers ruffled by ciaos in a rehearsal. He genuinely cared about all the people he
worked with, played with at Ole, as well as his other endeavors. He took time to make people feel special.
I think we’ve all found since his
passing, something that those of us who’ve known him for a while already knew …
he was VERY LOVED!! Not only did he have
a special relationship with all of us at Ole, but his co-workers, customers,
and the crew from the “old” Club 14 days remember him fondly. Kurt had a deep voice with a contagious
laugh. He had that ever-present smile
that lit up a room when he showed up to an event or party fashionably late. The echoes of “Where’s Kurt?” could be heard, even when the party was for
him. He knew how to make an
Thanks for the love and laughter,
I can say with certainty. You can be all things to many individuals. On all levels of diversity. Individuality. Each relationship was full of unconditional love. Unique and trusting. He knew how to fill anyone's spirits. At least, that's what I saw.
I first got to know Kurt under a table,
literally. We were both cast in a show called The Dining Room. We had so
much fun under that table! That's where we forged and pledged our love and
friendship 'til the day we died.
On the stage, Kurt was a gifted actor that I
had the pleasure of directing a number of times. Whether portraying a dramatic
role like Lt Colonel Matthew Markinson in A Few Good Men or as the funny
and crazy Sedgwick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Kurt could create
a character―heck, Kurt was a character!
Memories just keep flooding into
my mind and there are many I could share. His fingerprints are all over our
theater group as a director, writer, creator, and Hall of Fame member and he
will be truly missed. But what hurts even more is the heartbreak I feel over
losing one of my best friends of my lifetime. We never fought, we always
laughed and it will be so hard for me without him. We spoke every week,
sometimes twice clear up until his passing. I got him a Snoopy quilt a few
months ago―he snuggled under it as he left us and I'm so grateful to the family
for returning it to me.
Cari Brooks Scott
Kurt Schindler...our Kurtie...was the most
humble, kind hearted, talented, and fun person that graced our Ole stage and
became my dear friend. He was our own super-star with memorable roles; but he
was so much more than that. He made everyone he met feel valued and important;
his laugh, contagious and infectious. My greatest memories are getting him to
sign a directors copy of a show he wrote that he was going to throw away-he
said he felt so important by autographing that for me. He made it a point to
sit beside me during a show that was sad so he could hold my hand and comfort
me; knowing I’d lost my husband only months before. He always managed to catch
me peeking out of the stage and took countless pictures of half of my face. My boys
also loved him; my youngest, Canaan, didn’t know his name was Kurt for the
longest time; referring to him as “Peace Brotha”, the phrase they said to each
other whenever they saw each other. To say he will be missed is an
understatement; a hole in our hearts for quite a while, I’m sure. I’m thankful
and blessed to have known him; and because I knew him, I am changed for good.
Kurt was a
mood lifter, confidence booster and someone I always looked forward to seeing
or hearing from. His belief in someone else's abilities - especially your own -
was contagious. Have so many favorite memories with Kurt but probably the most
special was the dinner theater (opening night) for Once Upon A Cole. I asked
him to come out with me to introduce the show. Though I'd written the fairy
tale, he helped me turn it into a play. His supportive response was that it was
my moment - drink it in and savour it. Thank you, Kurt - for everything. I
continue to cherish you and the memories you helped create with all of us. I
love you, dear friend.
Shannon Morton Banter
A picture of Kurt from the 1st Showstoppers. He sang "Mr. Cellophane" from the movie Chicago.
Blair Brown Kurt knew I wanted to be a Hollywood actor, and he'd always ask me about my plans and talk about his time on the set of Golden Girls. He was very supportive of my dream. Dan Brown
...Kurt was very supportive of Blair... and
Danielle. In fact, Kurt asked Danielle to help him direct one of his shows. His
belief in others brought out their best.
Kurt was so talented and creative. He
excelled at comedy, especially parody. When writing a play I feel he was
intentional about making sure each character had their moment, at least one. As
an actor, he could be a bit territorial, but once he had his part he would work
and polish his performance to a high standard. He challenged himself and helped
his fellows rise to theirs. His was a generous and compassionate heart. He’ll
be sorely missed by many.
Brandi Murphy To say that Kurt Schindler has been an inspiration, authentic, kind, caring, humble, and so much more is an understatement of his many unique and wonderful attributes.
Kurt along with Kelly Mathias-Williams cast me in my first show with Ole Olsen in nearly 20 years. He opened his arms and heart with love and friendship immediately. I instantly felt as though I had known him my entire life. Kurt encouraged me along with many others to write, and I did. I wrote a Cole Porter review with much assistance from him. I have written songs after his encouragement to learn to play an instrument. His never ending positivity and support has enriched the lives of more people than I can count.
I am blessed to have been able to have his friendship over the last few years. And while the world will never be the same without “our Kurt” the world is certainly a better place for having had him in it.
I think of laughs, honesty, devotion and
friendship when it comes to Kurt...but mostly I see how supportive he was.
Kurt would support you in achieving your dreams and also support you in your
choice to give up or lose one of those dreams. He knew how to lift you up and
also understood that sometimes you were in a low, dark place and needed to stay
there for a little bit. Kurt could support you while you were trying to support
someone else. He had a unique and never-failing ability to connect with a
person on a human level. No judgment given or taken. When Kurt listened to
you, he truly HEARD you. Kurt had an amazing way of listening to your goals,
and telling you all about yourself but in a way that made you feel like a
bright and shining star- - like you were the best of the best. He supported his
friends...no matter what crazy thing you wanted to do...Kurt believed in you.
There is no good way to end this particular post. I thank everyone who contributed to it. I thank Kurt Schindler for being who he was...who he is, for what he gave and continues to give. We love you, Kurt.
Okay, it's a writing post, from another blog in another time, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
One of my least favorite parts of myself is that my tin ear is so completely...er...tin. I am surprised that earrings don’t adhere to my skin with rust when I wear them. Although I like music and the emotion I get from it, I don’t actually hear the notes or feel the emotion of the performer. My husband was changing strings on his Alvarez guitar a few weeks ago and was aghast at hearing a dead spot—there were two or three notes that weren’t there. I hope I was properly sympathetic, but in truth, the notes that weren’t there sounded to me exactly like the ones that were.
This past weekend was the annual Cole Porter Festival where I live. Saturday night, we went to the cabaret of mostly Porter songs at the Depot where the local theatre performs. As always, I was completely awed by the talent all around me, but on one song, I noticed that Duane’s applause was even more enthusiastic than usual. He was spellbound.
Well, I could understand that—they all amazed me, but then he turned to me and said, “Did you see it? When the emotion got her and took over the song? Did you hear it? Wasn’t it great?”
It got me to thinking about emotion in writing, for the writer and for the reader. I love writing emotion, because I feel it as I write it. These are the scenes that write themselves, that have me laughing or crying aloud here by myself in the office. These are the ones that are my favorites. Always.
As a reader, the parts of books I go back and reread are the ones that make me feel. Pamela Morsi wrote a scene in Letting Go that I read 12 years ago and it hasn’t “let go” of me yet. Emotional scenes are the basis for my personal stack of comfort reads. My heart has been rewriting Beth March’s death in Little Women for over 50 years, but I read and love the way it is. Over and over and over.
As a reader, I probably have a tin ear to the sounds of other writers’ emotions when they write. I think their words were from their hearts, but maybe not—maybe they’re just that good at making the sounds my emotions want to hear.
And that’s so cool! The song last night, the one that Duane saw and felt explode with emotion, was just another beautiful song to me. But the one a little before that, when Duane and three others performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, had tears pushing at the back of my eyes and my nails cutting half-moons of joy into my palms. To him, “Hallelujah” is merely a good song; to me, it is an anthem.
As a writer, I want to write those scenes that stay with me forever and ever. If you’ve read One More Summer, you know what I’m talking about. However, not everyone will feel that—their ears will be deaf to my angst, sorrow, and joy.
On the other side of that much-flipped coin, I have had lovely emails from people about scenes that affected them deeply, made them laugh hard or sniffle or read a passage aloud to someone else. I am so pleased when that happens and more proud than I have a right to be. Because often those scenes are not the ones that exploded from me in an emotional spate; rather, they are the ones I chewed my thumb and stared into space while I dug for, word by slow word.
Duane restrung the Alvarez again the other day. “Listen!” he urged, and strummed a few times. “Hear it? The notes are back. The dead spot is gone.”
Hear it? No, I couldn’t. But I felt his happiness—he loves the Alvarez. When he plays songs like “Hallelujah,” even though he’s not emotionally invested in them, he still feels how powerfully listeners are touched. It makes him try harder, I think, to chew his mental thumb and stare into space until, note by slow note, he’s able to give listeners a gift he doesn’t have. When he is emotionally involved, there’s no chewing or staring necessary, but we with our tin ears don’t know one from the other—we just enjoy the music and the sensations it gives us.
I’ve read back over this post and I have to admit it’s kind of confusing. I think what I’m trying to do is remind us that when it comes to emotions, sometimes we are the givers and sometimes we are the receivers. Either way, the gift is absolute.