About this blog

When my sister, Deborah Blackwell, was hired to head up one of Disney’s cable networks in 2001, she bought her dream house on Mulholland Drive.  Deborah said its ten foot tall doorways made her feel like Alice in Wonderland.  Mexican floor tiles the color of sun-warmed clay stretched throughout the house and onto the patio and pool area, blurring the lines between indoors and out.  My sister filled her house with books and friends, paintings and music.  And on every surface, snapshots in silver frames celebrated the people in her life.

In 2009, I filled a suitcase with a dozen of these memories, wrapping each with the sweaters and flannel nightgowns Deborah would need in Vermont.  When I closed the door behind us to leave for the airport on the balmy January day, I felt as though I was taking her life away.   Deborah knew she was leaving this place she loved.  She knew she was flying to my home in Vermont.  What she didn’t know–what I couldn’t tell her–was that she would never be coming back.

My intelligent, accomplished older sister was gone before we even knew she was sick.  Deborah has Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD), an insidious dementia that targets adults in their 40s and 50s.  The cells in the part of her brain that control behavior and decision making, that control the very essence of who she is, are dying.

And there is no cure.

As Deborah’s sister and guardian, I am writing a memoir about our experiences navigating the cataclysm of FTD.  The pieces I’m sharing with blog readers are interludes from the main story, which begins with the onset of Deborah’s disease.  I hope these reflections will raise public awareness of FTD, as well as touch other families facing similar challenges.

Dale Gasque

3 thoughts on “About this blog

  1. Early one morning I lay on those Mexican floor tiles in Deborah’s house. My wife Pat and I were visiting and I awoke early in pain from a kidney stone. I was sweating heavily, and the cool tiles gave me brief moments of relief. As did Deborah’s dog, a small poodle I believe, who would lick me feverishly every time I lay down. I still smile every time I think of the whole experience. Too bad Deborah cannot return to those tiles and have her dog lick her FTD away. We miss her.

    • Satchmo, Deborah’s dog, joined our herd in 2009. He made a remarkable transition from being an only dog to one of four, and we love having him–especially now that we’ve broken him of the licking habit. Of course, he still takes advantage of company. Some things never change.
      I’m glad that Deborah’s friends still think about her. I love the stories they share. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Thanks for creating this blog. I am familiar with Alzheimer’s and dementia, but FTD is a new horror to me. Bless you for what you did for your sister.

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