Last week I stumbled across an episode of the PBS Kids program, Arthur. It is a program our son watched when he was young, and it’s fun to stop and watch an episode if I see one on TV. The TV show was “born” in 1996, the same year as my son. Unlike my son, Arthur is, and always has been, in third grade. Even though he hasn’t aged, Arthur and his friends have tackled a range of subjects over the years including asthma, Asperger’s, and cancer. You can visit www.pbskids.org for more information about the program.
What caught my attention during the opening of the program last week was the show was being introduced by Francine’s Bubba, voiced by Joan Rivers. If you watch nothing else, take the time to watch this as it was very funny. The title of the episode, “Grandpa Dave’s Memory Album”, gave me an “uh, oh” feeling, and I was right.
Grandpa Dave, Arthur’s maternal grandfather, is coming to stay with them for a couple of days while he is in town for a doctor’s appointment. A widower, Grandpa Dave lives alone on his farm. While they are driving to Arthur’s house, Grandpa comments on how different the town looks. He then asks if the car is new and is told by Arthur’s little sister D.W. that he was in it to go to a family wedding. Mom (Grandpa Dave’s daughter) says that the car was recently washed, and maybe that’s why he thinks it is new.
After arriving at the house, Grandpa Dave plays outside with Arthur and D.W. They start to play hide-and-seek, with Grandpa Dave counting while the children hide. After a while, D.W. realizes they have been hiding an awfully long time, so she and Arthur look for their grandfather. They are shocked to discover him in the house having a sandwich. When Arthur asks Grandpa Dave about this, he tells the children he forgot what he was doing so he came inside. And then he calls Arthur by the name “Archie”. Arthur is devastated. His sister starts to collect photographs to help their grandfather remember, but Arthur says that there is no point.
After Grandpa Dave’s doctor appointment, the family sits down together and Grandpa Dave explains that he has memory problems that are more than he should have. The good news is that he’ll be living closer to them now.
Arthur goes to the park and while sitting sadly on a bench, Francine’s Bubba comes over and asks what is wrong. He tells her that his grandfather doesn’t even remember his name. Over pastrami sandwiches, Francine’s Bubba reassures Arthur that his grandfather still loves him and that sometimes brains get sick just like bodies. Arthur invites Francine’s grandmother over to his house for dinner with his parents and grandparents. With help from Bubba, the children make a memory album (Grandpa Dave’s Memory Album) with pictures from both recent family events, and the past when Grandpa was younger.
My explanation of this episode doesn’t really do it justice. If you have a loved one or friend impacted by a memory loss, I recommend this Arthur episode whether or not you have young children.