I’m afraid that the Aunt Stella (Vernee Watson) we once knew is long gone. Remember the surly lady who threw a fit about Jordan (Briana Nicole Henry) and Curtis’ (Donnell Turner) marriage? She’s turned into a sweetie pie who just embraced TJ (Tajh Bellow) and Molly’s (Haley Pullos) marriage.
What happened? People change, it’s that simple. But, even when they are no longer recognizable to us, saying goodbye is still hard to do.
That’s exactly what’s happening to Mike Corbin (Max Gail), Aunt Stella’s former social work client and now, friend.
Mike has Alzheimer’s. It’s an ugly disease, one that viciously robs one of their memories without remorse and tries to erase a person from the life they’ve created even as they breath. It’s a hard process to witness, whether in real life or reel life.
General Hospital is hitting it out of the park with this storyline, showing in painstaking detail the slow, yet all too rapid, change and deterioration of not just one person, but an entire family when Alzheimer’s comes to stay.
Max Gail and Maurice Benard deserve all the praise they’re getting for their nuanced performances as a father and son struggling to cope with their versions of reality. If they don’t receive Emmys from the Academy, they have an outpouring of admiration from legions of fans who recognize their story as their own and praise the authenticity they’ve brought to the screen. I’m sure their sensitive portrayal of this heart-wrenching subject has helped many who live with the effects of Alzheimer’s daily.
Aunt Stella told Sonny (Maurice Benard) not to be afraid as he watches the person he once knew disappear. People change, it is that simple. But, instead of becoming more evolved as Stella herself has over time, Mike is devolving. It’s impossible to watch these two characters interact and not see the irony in Stella’s incredible growth and Mike’s incredible demise.
The time for Sonny, and fans, to say goodbye to Mike, and his incredible portrayer Max Gail, is coming, proving that Aristotle was wrong when he said, “change in all things is sweet.”
General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC.