Thursday, March 8, 2012
After my father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, we marveled at how he was able show so much grace under so much fire.
His symptoms and behavior were atypical from the git go. Aphasia took his story telling skill and ultimately his voice. He was left with only familiar short words and phrases. Uh huh...that's right, yes, No! uh huh.
In the last few months he was able to drive, he carried the x-rays of his brain in the trunk of his car. Logical explanation: he was part of an ongoing study and had decided to donate his brain to further research when the time came. But the x-rays inhabited the trunk for a good while, rarely seeing the light of day. As a doctor and then a professor of public health, he understood the need for research. His participation was complete.
But he joked with the smile he never lost.
Sometimes, when we'd sit with him alone, he'd attempt a small conversation.
"I need a new brain" he told us with a shrug of his shoulders and the look of an imp.
So we gave him one.
A small, fit in the palm of your hand, bright blue, rubber, brain that he carried with him in his pocket. He loved it.
We all knew it was a stupid thing to do, but we all enjoyed it just the same. Even though there was plenty wrong with the brain he now possessed, he retained so much that remained healthy.
It was a feeble attempt at humor. We attempted feeble humor. Humor attempted: feeble. It is still humor.
Like the floater that now inhabits my left eye, I make a feeble attempt to wipe it away. It is on the inside, it's on the inside...unreachable. Casts a shadow, becomes the bouncing ball to follow...learn all the words and then you can sing your feeble attempt.
Every morning I put four quarters into a newspaper box in front of my favorite coffee shop. The daily is so thin, on occasion, that I have to be careful not to take two. The concept of newspaper as we know it is dying. I can accept this. I don't like it, but I know it's inevitable. That's why I want to buy a newspaper from a coin box before the practice stops completely. How soon before that happens? No doubt sooner than we think. Another feeble attempt. A weak exercise in futility. Like pennies in my pocket, the newspaper is no longer useful for news.