Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Still, I am unsure if her forgetfulness should be called an illness

And how could I be so dumb as to miss the early, telltale signs, back then when she started forgetting things? 
Simple things, such as the names of her students, and how to teach music, or play Beethoven's fifth. And later, how to put words on paper, and mail me a letter, and why not call me, why not tell me the truth; and how to talk to him, to my father; and most of all, how to forgive betrayal.  
So for me, home is where her illness has been buried, up to now, under a thin, undisturbed layer of memories. 
Or should I call them lies. 
I think that in the future, I should refrain from talking to my father, and especially, from asking him any more questions about her. Let him not upset that image, which I have been striving so hard to construct, the image of mom, framed by their life together, because if this image collapses, so will I. 
Still, I am unsure if her forgetfulness should be called an illness. Those doctors, they could have made a mistake. Two years in medical school taught me one thing, which is how terribly easy it can be to make an incorrect diagnosis. I recall a study of brain autopsies, in which roughly half of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's before death did not, in fact, show any evidence, I mean, evidence of the right degree of brain lesions to support the diagnosis. 
If there is one illness which—in this case—seems too far-fetched, it would be Alzheimer's. My mother is now in her early fifties: much too young, I think, for anything like that.
Yesterday, arriving at LAX, I hoped this could be a short visit, short enough just to take my father out of the hospital and make sure he is all right. I planned to spend no more than a week—but now, now that I know more about mom, and about where she is, I may have to stay longer and think about my next steps.

Ben in Apart From Love

In my novel, Ben returns to his childhood home, and reveals a closely guarded family secret, only to to deny it. His mother, Natasha, previously a renowned pianist, has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. Can he save her? Will he accept her fate? Can he break through her silence and reach what remains of the ruins of her mind? Throughout the story, he undergoes a profound change, and alas, so does his mother.


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