We learned that Lee Gorewitz, the magnetic, philosophical, and feisty subject of last season’s film You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t passed away on Thursday, September 13, 2012.
In the film, Lee welcomed us into the confusing and sometimes joyous day-to-day of her life in an Alzheimer’s care facility, where she struggled to make sense of the world, but also never let her plight tamp down her sense of humor or take-no-prisoners personality.
Scott Kirschenbaum, the director of You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t, wrote an op-ed in March about how he came to meet Lee, and how everything he had planned for his film became instantly irrelevant once he had been swept up in Lee’s incomparable aura.
“The first time I visited the Traditions Alzheimer’s Unit in Danville, Calif., I was greeted at the door by Lee Gorewitz, a spry septuagenarian in a baby blue jogging suit. With the exuberance of a cruise director, Lee presented herself as a staff member, took my hand and gave me a tour, during which she delivered a soliloquy unlike anything I had ever heard before: for well over a minute she prattled on about purses, windows and gardens, before she eventually locked eyes with me and said: ‘I hear the song in my ears, and I think they don’t love me anymore.’ From this spontaneous word-salad came two things that forever altered my film project; I realized Lee was not staff, but a resident. And, I decided, her presence in the unit was reason enough to throw away that screenplay I’d just written.”
This week, as Scott shared the news with us that Lee had died, and had this to say about his friend:
“Lee was a gem-of-a-lady, with charisma and spirit that stretched for miles in every direction. Though she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease during her last years, she was an exceptional and resilient soul, with the most welcoming personality. I will always remember her in her baby blue jogging suit, shaking a tailfeather even after the music had stopped.”
We too will always remember Lee, and our thoughts are with her family. She was one of a kind, and generous enough to allow us to witness her world from her own perspective. For that, we are eternally grateful.