Cork couple's touching Alzheimer's journey inspires re-release of Mescall's 'The Last Song'  

The touching journey of a Cork couple coming to terms with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's has inspired acclaimed songwriter Don Mescall to re-release 'The Last Song', this time as a 'Song for Jim'
Cork couple's touching Alzheimer's journey inspires re-release of Mescall's 'The Last Song'  

Caroline and Jim Colbert. In 2017, Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

The touching journey of a Cork couple coming to terms with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's has inspired acclaimed songwriter Don Mescall to re-release 'The Last Song', this time as a 'Song for Jim'.

As 30 couples throughout Ireland experience every day, in 2017 Jim and Caroline Colbert received the diagnosis that Jim had Alzheimer's disease.

Since his diagnosis, Caroline kept their memories alive by editing photos and videos of their days together to play for Jim, with one special song in particular playing in the background.

“I don’t know how ‘The Last Song’ ended up on my laptop, but one evening I played it for Jim and he loved it, and we had a little dance to it. I put the pictures of us and all the things we do to that song, and that became our thing. Every night after dinner,” said Caroline.

As time moved on, Jim moved to Oaklodge Nursing Home, yet Caroline was still determined to help her husband however she could. She and the team at Oaklodge devised a first-of-its-kind ECP (essential care partner) programme which Caroline undertook so she could not only visit her husband during the pandemic, but help in his care.

Although Caroline insists she is not exceptional, she has paved the way for others to be more involved in the care of their loved ones.

Acclaimed songwriter Don Mescall: 'There was something about Caroline’s message, it was a message from a heart to a heart – even if I wanted to ignore it, I couldn't.'
Acclaimed songwriter Don Mescall: 'There was something about Caroline’s message, it was a message from a heart to a heart – even if I wanted to ignore it, I couldn't.'

“I’ve met so many other ‘me’s on this road. I’m lucky I had a skillset I could use and engage to try and help Jim, and I’m just fortunate that because my focus was Jim, the ECP has helped other people too,” she said.

When Caroline reached out to songwriter Don Mescall on Instagram to tell him how much ‘The Last Song’ meant to her and Jim, she never would have expected his reply.

“There was something about Caroline’s message, it was a message from a heart to a heart – even if I wanted to ignore it, I couldn't," said Don.

Hearing about the power of Caroline and Jim’s love story, and how they lived it with ‘The Last Song’ in the background, Don agreed to re-release ‘The Last Song (Song for Jim)’ to share their story and raise awareness about Alzheimer’s.

Maybe this was the journey that the song was supposed to go on in the first place, because it's about that, it's about love, undying love under any circumstances.”

‘The Last Song’, written by Don and Mike Reid, is from Don's Lighthouse Keeper album (2018). 

His songs have more than 16m hits on YouTube and have been recorded by Geri Halliwell, Ronan Keating, Cliff Richard, Nathan Carter, Sharon Corr, Aslan and Boyzone.

The re-recorded song will be available for download and streaming on November 5 with a new music video featuring people living with dementia and family carers from across Ireland. 
The re-recorded song will be available for download and streaming on November 5 with a new music video featuring people living with dementia and family carers from across Ireland. 

Caroline hopes the song will raise awareness about Alzheimer's, as well as funds for the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, and be the same “balm for the soul” that it was for Jim and herself.

“There are two states, love and fear. If you're not in one you're in the other. We momentarily went into fear, and it’s not a nice place. This song is one of hope and tells you that love will prevail no matter what happens to you in life,” said Caroline.

The re-recorded song will be available for download and streaming on November 5 with a new music video featuring people living with dementia and family carers from across Ireland. 

All funds raised from downloads and donations fund The Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s dementia-specific supports and services across the country.

  • If you have been affected by an issue raised in an Irish Examiner article, please see support services and helplines that are available: The Alzheimer Society of Ireland or call 1800 341 341

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