In the progression of Alzheimer’s disease that is commonly used among healthcare providers and associations related, stage 7 is the final and most critical stage. The patient is near death. With full inability to respond to the environment, it becomes only a matter of time until they forget how to swallow.
Concurrently, the narrator is in the seventh and final stage of the grieving process: Acceptance. Though Alzheimer’s is a relentless disease, the narrator is able to recognize that imbalances and lack of order cannot last forever.
While the guitar riff sounds similar to the album's leitmotif, it is not the same. Here, the notes are evenly spaced out and all on downbeats, generating steadiness and equality. The choir and the electric guitar’s effects put the music in a majestic and sacred realm to display the fragility of the senior’s mortality. Additionally, a heartbeat is heard just before the lyrics enter.
you'll realize there are no tears in Heaven, just the way you’ve always imagined.
Again, double meaning is found in “the way” . Firstly as ‘Heaven is exactly how you’ve imagined it’, and secondly as ‘Heaven is without imbalance, and is in permanent stasis of The Way that divides yin and yang’.
Remember this life is not our last,
for all that is wrong will come to pass us by. Harmonized, you and I, in a world I look for, all I see is for better or worse, whatever occurs, you’re still with me.
When all of the vocals and instruments cut out, a violin continuously holds the last note to depict the sound of a heart monitor flatlining. The senior has died, and a haunting instrumental section follows directly after. The progression continuously descends and is eventually taken over by a juxtaposing progression that consistently ascends. Exiting the descension and entering the ascension, the violin and cello slowly morph from their natural acoustic sound and into electronic-like sound effects. They continuously build until resolving into the song’s climax, where balance and general harmony are restored - Men and women’s vocals, acoustic and electric instruments, harmonize while moving back and forth over major and minor chords. Both long and short lasting voicings, along with individual descending and ascending runs, are performed by the cellos and violins. All together, they synchronize and unite in harmony to depict the moment of temporary balance between the chaos of yin and the order of yang. The
senior has moved on from this life and no longer suffers. Ultimately, it is a reminder that nothing will stay imbalanced, tragic, and devastating forever...
...But nothing stays balanced forever either, for right when the song has ended, the senior is heard tuning his guitar and clearing his throat before playing the opening track and looping the album infinitely, solidifying the yin and yang as ceaseless with no beginning or end.
Clearly, the senior has since passed away, but this is another senior. Alzheimer’s is not over. The disease is genetic and it carries on. Perhaps it’s a relative, or maybe it’s even myself for when I reach that age, if I get it. I played the music on this album at 20 years old, who’s to say that I won’t be playing that very same song on my guitar when I’m 70?
“All things carry Yin
yet embrace Yang.
They blend their life breaths
in order to produce harmony.”
-Tao Te Ching, Chapter 42
Thank you for reading and listening to my contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association, where all profits made from this album and any items affiliated are donated directly. This album honors those who suffer from Dementia and the families that endure it. Hopefully this album can bring awareness in a more enjoyable manner, help with acceptance, and ease the devastation.
Thank you for taking the time to be a part of my personal tribute to my beloved Grandmother, Diane Keefer Stith - Forever in my heart, broken or not.
Rest peacefully, Grandmom.
I love you,
April 12, 1941 - August 15, 2020