April 8

1908 – death of August Deter, first patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease


“Do you recognize me?”

“I wonder if I should.”

“What if I told you I was your child?”

“A child would be smaller.  I know that much.”

“Tell me where you are.”

“Here.  That’s plain.  Are you a doctor?  You look like a doctor.”

“No, I’m a visitor.”

“I had a daughter once.  I think, a son.”

“Can you tell me either of their names?”

“One of them died.  The dead one has your eyes.”

“Mother.  Take this marker, and write your name on this board.”

“I’m not signing anything.  You lose things when you sign them.”

“You’ve written ‘Greer.’  Do you know who Greer is?”

“My husband?  My wife?  It’s someone I’ve hurt, isn’t it.  I’m sorry.”

“Mother, do you know what’s happened?  Do you know what condition the world is in?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Should I tell you again?  Tell you again why you’re here, and why you shouldn’t leave this room?”

“I don’t think so.  I don’t like your expression, doctor.  Leave me.”

You do as your mother requests.  Tonight, she will try to sleep, in this small room that’s her whole, perpetually unfamiliar world.  When she wakes to a new day the confusion will persist, interrupted by bouts of painful awareness, not of what she’s lost, but how much.