From the Editor

May 2017My family and I attended the SALN film festival screening of “Gleason” last weekend, a film about local football hero Steve Gleason and his life dealing with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It was an eye opening experience for me on many levels.

Typically I don’t like to watch reality television. Even though they are unscripted, the drivel and drama associated with whatever theme it is about is kind of boring. I prefer the documentary style films. But “Gleason” was as unaffected and direct as a documentary can be.

This film took you inside his nucleus family. You saw first hand everything they have to deal with. The nuances they covered, with delicacy and taste, was phenomenal. Early on his comment to his wife Michel Varisco “A good filmer asks good questions to get really good material,” sets the tone for the rest of the film. And nothing is off limits. The film challenges the viewer on topics like marriage and parenting as well as the debilitating process the illness poses.

But there is humor in the film too. His support network, referred to as “Badass Unit” deals with real physical issues, such as when a nurse arrives to give Steve an enema, and these become comic high points.

The most emotional point for me was the way Steve dealt with his relationship with his father. This covers everything, from being raised in a pretty dysfunctional household to a spiritual reckoning and respect he asks for from his dad.

And I, for one, have the utmost respect for his rock, his wife Michel. She is the anchor not just for Steve’s treatment but for the audiences journey. As I sat there thinking ‘I could do this’, her reality as she confesses her doubts and fears, brought up so many topics I could never have foresaw coming. For anyone who has served as a caregiver, as I did for my mother last year, this film takes you on a journey and helps you learn some of life’s most important lessons. Like learning when to ask for help.

A tearjerker of a film, but also a joyous one.