The recent decisions facing the Casey Kasem family are among the most difficult that one will ever face. As this life-and-death drama unfolds in public, through quick sound bites and opposing viewpoints, the messages have become confusing and murky.
I have been friends with Kerri Kasem for almost ten years. In that time we have worked together and traveled to places near and far away. We have attended gatherings with family and friends, socialized with her siblings, attended parties, played board games, and celebrated life moments. Kerri and the Kasem Family are kind, warm, thoughtful, and family-oriented.
In 2009, she mentioned that her family was worried about her father’s health. He was in decline and they were concerned. She also said they were concerned about the impact that any disclosures might have upon his public persona. Millions of people worldwide have fond, personal, and touching memories of Casey Kasem. Kerri was hopeful that he could retain that place in our hearts. And respectfully, I never discussed her father’s condition with her again.
A few years later, I knew that the circumstances must be dire when Kerri and her siblings filed suit regarding the care and visitation of their famous father. His condition must have escalated to the point where intervention overshadowed the risk of impacting the beloved image of Casey Kasem that many of us held in our youthful memories. I know that it must have been a heart-wrenching decision for his children, one not easily made. As things progressed, I saw Kerri deftly use media attention to garner public support in an effort to simply visit her father. Until recently, she had always been allowed by his care providers to visit with him regularly. Although accustomed to media and the press, I know that she would have preferred a much more private and personal resolution.
To me, the most troubling part of it all is the difference between reality and public perception. During every media appearance, it has been said that “it is not about the money.” From the start, I saw the problem in this message, as it is overused and often misused. When people file lawsuits, often demanding punitive financial damages, they nearly always contest that it is not about the money. The public scoffs at the proclamation and moves on with their hard-working lives. But the fact is, the Kasem lawsuit and public outreach was only about healthcare, visitation rights which ultimately led to public awareness and outpouring of elder abuse.