Posted by: jhvn | 09/30/2015

Unlocking the Past: How Dementia Became a Key to Awareness

Old Gold Key, ID _l_47980682 © Choneschones,

 Unlocking the Past: How Dementia Became a Key to Awareness

A  documentary film by John Van Ness:

His internal and external journey with Patricia, his wife of nearly 60 years,

through her dementia and death in March, 2012.

Wedding, June, 1953

Wedding, June, 1953

50 th Anniverary, June, 2003

50 th Anniversary, June, 2003

By  facing his own fears, desires, and illusions, and surviving a stroke;   John found himself able to be mindfully present to Pat.

As her dementia progressed, Pat became aware of her own childhood abuse as well as her issues of being woman, and fear of the demonic. As a result of their inner and outer work, Pat passed to the next world in more serenity than John had ever seen; and John discovered unexpected joy in living alone.

Comments by author Thomas Moore, their three sons, other professionals and close friends, along with dozens of family photos, Rembrandt, Chagall, and Monet paintings, and an original improvisational piano accompaniment enhance the film’s emotional and spiritual impact. John’s seeking meaning and value in the journey of dementia as a blessing rather than a curse demonstrates the healing power of mindful awareness enhanced by John’s and Pat’s long-time spiritual practice.

Few presentations on dementia present a spouse’s first-person account of care giving and follow all the way to the death of the spouse. All care givers — professionals as well as family members — can draw guidance and inspiration from this film.

John's Bdy pty

John’s        Birthday             party,         January, 2012

Final production and editing are continuing.

No release date yet.  Watch for further information.


  1. John, what a gift this will be to so many!

  2. Well done! Will look forward to viewing and embracing your completed accounting of “Living Human Documents” journey in living fully present to the wholeness of being Love. Thank you for your gift,model, and mentor presence. dtn3

  3. Hi John:

    I look forward to seeing this film… inspire us all.


  4. Nice piece John, maybe I hire you to promote my book.

    • Glad you liked the blog. I’ll have enough promoting to do with this film. You couldn’t afford me to promote your book.

      • Hah! And to think only a week ago I knew you on a first name basis

  5. Seemingly his is a voice crying in the wilderness of an aspiritual culture, yet I await it on this matter with great anticipation.

  6. So looking forward to seeing this. I know your heart is in it. Thanks for doing it.

    • Thanks, Margie. It really is. And you and Mark play important parts in it.

      Peace, John

  7. Thank you, Joh, I look forward to the finished documentary

    • Thanks, Carole. I too look forward to it. John

  8. Halleluia!!! Good work and hopefully some (mote) relief for conclusions! 0wem

    • Thanks, Owen. I do hope folks will find it helpful. The process of producing this so far has helped me clarify, accept, and profit from my experience with Pat. I wish the same for you.


  9. Hi John,

    Any idea of when the documentary film will be available? Looks beautifully, artistically, creatively,effectively put together. Bill 524-9422

    • Thanks, Bill. I hope it may be ready by the end of the year. But I can’t tell yet. These things take more time than I had imagined. You can follow this blog to get more info when it’s available.

      Peace, John

  10. Hi John,

    Computers are amazing! Somehow and for some reason I just received your post on geezerhoodguide. The “heart key” is wonderful as are your pics and the brief promo. I look forward to the “rest of the story”.

    Be well as you enjoy these beautiful fall days.

    Blessings and Peace,



    • Thanks, Gary,
      I too look forward to the rest of the film. It’s coming, and I greatly appreciate your helpful comments.

  11. can we see it yet?!

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