A woman's life through the lens of Alzheimer's

It's a cosmic question: Who are you if you lose your mind? Liz Taylor, Seattle Times

Where does the unique "you" — your memories, humor and dreams — go when your body's still here but your brain stops working? This fundamental and heartbreaking question is at the core of a compelling film that will be presented at 8 p.m. Thursday on KCTS-TV. Part of the "About Us" series showcasing the works of Northwest filmmakers, "Quick Brown Fox" was produced by Seattle filmmaker Ann Hedreen and directed by her and her husband, Rustin Thompson. It's an intensely personal story that follows the shattered life of Hedreen's mother, Arlene, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at 66.

She had been brilliant, the smartest kid in her class growing up in Butte, Mont., which is now so polluted from copper mines that it's a major Superfund site.

She went to college for a year but dropped out, married and had her first baby by the time she was 20. Life was hard. She married twice, divorced twice, bore six children, married again in her 40s and gained three stepchildren, then almost immediately lost her husband to cancer, then lost her father four months later.

"As we were putting this film together," says Hedreen in the film, "the question people asked us most often was: When did it start? When and why and how? You can drive yourself crazy trying to guess. Was it all those toxic mud pies she made as a girl ... or was it the emotional steeplechase of her first two failed marriages? Of divorcing at 25? Or was it that fateful year, 1977, when everything bad that can happen, did?"

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