Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis aka MS in May 2009, Patrice Majors the co-owner and founder of FOCUS on the 615, shares her personal story about living with this disease as she tells you where she’s been, how she got here, and where she’s headed. As a result of numerous problems with MS and a recent health scare with her heart, she embarks on a journey to return to the best shape she can get into. She will share with you what she learns about good health along the way as she trains and prepares to enter the MS Jack and Back bike event here in Nashville in the fall where she has set her goal to complete the 120 mile bike ride from Nashville to Lynchburg, TN (Jack Daniels Distillery) and back in a 2-day ride. Come share the experience with her as she trains for this event and tells you her story of how she got here in the first place seeking to raise awareness for MS along the way.
People often ask me how I got to be an entertainment journalist and doing what I do. So, I’m going to try to explain all of this and take you on a very personal journey with me that I share through entries just like this as I work to regain my health and finding my happy place along the way. I’m hoping that by sharing my personal story on here, that maybe I will inspire or help someone just like me that might be going through a difficult time in their life and struggling with something. Do you know anybody like that? Oh, yeah, that’s probably you, right? Because the fact of the matter is that ALL of us have either struggled or are struggling with SOMETHING in their life. I’m not unique by any means. I’m just a person trying to live my life the best way that I know how. Sometimes I get things right, sometimes I fail miserably. At the end of my life, though, I want to be able to look back and say that I made a difference somehow. I just want to be happy and live a long fruitful like filled with lots of love, laughter, and good times. So, if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to attempt to share my very personal story of how I got to be in this place in my life running an online entertainment magazine called FOCUS on the 615 where I interview artists, attend special events, and award show. I’ve got a story to tell that I think is worth sharing and I hope you’ll be interested in hearing about it. Here goes!
This journey begins almost 9 years ago to the day when I lost my dad to Alzheimer’s. My dad’s name was Charles Majors. He was retired Air Force. My dad was chosen for computer science back in the late 60s when no one knew anything about computers. It was a very different time. Dad was a very proud, intelligent, and humble man. He graduated with top honors from college as he supported a wife and 4 kids while working full time. Took him a while to get through it, because of all that, but my dad was determined. My dad also loved country music. He grew up on a farm in Arkansas listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio back in the 40s. I remember roadtrips to see both my mom and dad’s families sitting in the back of the car. Dad would switch over the station when he thought we were pay attention. Now, I’m going to admit something here. I am no country purest. In fact, when my dad would switch that radio station back in the 80s on the roadtrips to Arkansas, the first words out of my mouthy mouth were “dad, turn that twangy crap OFF” and I think I would even plug my ears or throw a pillow over my head. I’ve always been a little dramatic, even as a kid, what can I say? lol
Well, fast forward to May 2006 when my dad was admitted into the hospital and then moved to the nursing home. I remember vividly walking into my dad’s hospital room as I had been told he had been admitted to the hospital for not eating or drinking. That image is burned into my memory. Just 3 days before, I had stopping by my parents’ home and he was walking, talking, and eating. On that first day in the hospital, it was a very different story. As much as I love Nicholas Sparks’ novels and I even like the guy after meeting him on a Red Carpet last year for “The Best Of Me” movie premiere. However,when it comes to “The Notebook” (a movie that I love), what you have is a very romanticized version of Alzheimer’s. As the daughter of an Alzheimer’s patient, I can tell you that it is a very different reality. Not only does the Alzheimer’s patient suffer, but anyone that is close with them suffers greatly, too. I lived that personal hell for 3 years after dad was diagnosed until he passed away. I didn’t lose my dad once, I lost him piece by piece over the course of 3 years. I saw my dad who I was once very proud of become like a child, but let me tell you, watching a 70 something year old man become reduced to the mindset of a child is not cute in any way. I had to learn to live with that.
Moving ahead to the last month of his life when he was admitted to the hospital twice and we were forced by the hospital to place him into a nursing home. For that entire last month, my dad did not utter one word and I only saw him open his eyes 3 times that whole time. He would lay there curled up in a fetal position not talking or opening his eyes. Wasting away as he had placed in his living will that he did not want a feeding tube to prolong his life. To be honest, I’m glad he did that, because it took the decision from our hands. We had no choice but to abide by his wishes. However, we did our best to make sure that he was feed as we feed him ourselves with a spoon. I even fed him crushed ice to hydrate him as he stared into my eyes the whole time with nothing but sheer panic in them. I told him it would all “be ok”. I lied. I knew it wasn’t going to be ok, but I sat there with my dad, I smiled, and I cracked jokes all the while pushing back the tears when I was in front of him. I had to do that. As much as my heart was breaking, I had to stay strong while I was in front of dad and I had to be his advocate since he couldn’t speak for himself.
I remember very vividly 3 particular times. I knew in my heart that dad wasn’t going to make it a month. Somehow, I just knew. A friend who lost his dad to Alzheimer’s told me that even if it didn’t seem that dad was listening, that I needed to tell him goodbye for my own good. I sat quietly by my dad’s bedside holding his hand just a couple of weeks before he did pass away. I told him how proud I was to say I was his daughter, that everyday he showed what it meant to be a good dad, one who supported and stood by his family. A protector. I told him how much I loved him and I let him know that if he was just too tired to hold on, that it was ok. He was allowed to let go.
The second vivid memory from that time period was one day we decided to play some country music for him. His eyes popped wide open. He also stared straight at me as if to say “Patrice, stop talking about me as if I’m not in the room”, then he closed them back again. Ok, point taken, dad! lol It was true. I WAS talking about him like he wasn’t there.
The third memory that I will never forget is the last time I saw him alive. I had gotten the call that I needed to get to the hospital quick, because he was dying. I rushed over from work. Tears flowing. Dad was in the hospital bed. Eyes halfway open. You know that look a dead fish has with its eyes? That’s how my dad’s eyes looked. For once, I wish he would close them. I didn’t like seeing that. I sat there with him and this time I couldn’t hold back the tears. I just let them flow as I told him how much I loved him. He didn’t say anything, of course, but there were a couple of light squeezes from him as I held his hand. That was the last time I saw him alive, as he passed away in the middle of the night.
Fast forward to 3 days later at his funeral. I pulled up to the funeral home shaking and crying. I tried desperately to pull myself together. All of a sudden on the radio, there came some familiar voices. It was SHeDAISY singing “In Terms Of Love”. A country trio that I had met. They were the first artists I ever got to know and some of the nicest people around. When they found out that my dad had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 3 years before, they were there for me. They had lost their grandfather to that same disease, so they understood the pain. If it wasn’t for them during that time period, I don’t know where I’d be. Music has always been my solace. And, in that moment, I found comfort in their music and the friendship that we had formed. Listening to that song gave me the strength to walk into that funeral home and chapel to be able to talk about my dad in front of everyone. I was actually the only one who did, so I wanted to do it right.
Well, after that, I decided to do a one time music benefit for him. One time became 20 music benefits. And, that’s where this journey into the music world began for me. There is more, there is a LOT more to this story, but for now. I’ll leave you with these words. Music is powerful and there is great healing that can be found in it. I know, because music healed me. That little girl who used to yell from the backseat of my parents’ car as dad turned the dial to the country: “turn that twangy crap off”. I learned to LOVE the music that she found so annoying and through that love I found healing over that loss. I found a positive way to deal with dad’s death by doing something so he would be remembered. I named my benefit music series for Alzheimer’s “Forget-Me-Not” and it was in memory of my dad, Charles Majors.
That’s enough for now. I’ve already written a book and there is still so much left to tell, but that is how my journey into the world of music began.
Note: This was so long and I’m so tired right now, that I haven’t proofread. So, if you find some typos, please ignore.