Actors Max Gail and Maurice Benard offered General Hospital viewers standout performances in the episodes that aired the week of September 10.
Alzheimer’s is an unforgiving disease that wipes those diagnosed of a large part of what makes them who they are: their memories. Part of what makes us special is our experiences and the connections we’ve made in our lives. These connections and feelings make up the tapestry of our history. Where we’ve been. How we’ve gotten there. And the decisions we’ve made along the way on that journey called life.
Mike Corbin’s (Max Gail) decision to leave wife Adela and son Michael Corinthos Jr. (Sonny) impacted both their futures with Adela turning to (and marrying) a violent man named Deacon, setting young Sonny on a path to gain power in order not to feel as weak and helpless as he did as a child when Deacon would beat him and lock him in the closet. Thus, Sonny took up with mobster Joe Scully and embarked on a life of crime eventually becoming the head of his own organization.
When Mike (then played by Ron Hale) returned back into his adult son’s life, Sonny found it difficult forgiving his abandonment. Viewers learned that Mike had a drinking and gambling problem which resulted in him gambling away a happy life with his family. But it wasn’t until Mike entered Sonny’s life a second time and was diagnosed with the crippling disease that Corbin realized all he lost and what he had squandered: time with his loved ones.
As Mike’s memories slowly slipped away, Sonny struggled to make up for lost time choosing to have his father live with him. But Alzheimer’s is like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Mike is rapidly forgetting things and making actions that endanger those around him. His latest move: Striking a gas pipe at Julian’s bar Charlie’s Pub in order to destroy evidence of the body he’d buried there to protect his son from a murder charge. This caused an explosion that not only unearthed the bones of the murdered man but also injured his (Mike) granddaughter Kristina.
Although painful to accept, both Mike and Sonny realized that it was only a matter of time before Sonny had to place his father in a memory care facility. And Mike vowed to do anything for his family, even if it meant saying goodbye and going away.
In the Friday, September 14, Mike made his decision. In a heart wrenching scene, Sonny tearfully told his father he didn’t want him to go. Gone was the bravado and tough exterior of the head of the Corinthos Organization.
Watching these scenes resonated with me. As someone who had an older parent that became ill and diagnosed with a deadly disease, you feel helpless. You want your mother or father to have the best quality of life but realize how difficult it is to give it to them. You question every decision you make. Am I doing what’s best for them or myself? It’s torture watching someone you love slip away.
I applaud the writers of General Hospital for tackling this important story. Max Gail and Maurice Benard continue to shine playing this material. Their performances are raw and gripping.
Kudos Max Gail and Maurice Benard. It’s moments like these that showcase the talents of these two actors.
Photo Courtesy of ABC and General Hospital
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