What Beau and Alzheimer’s Have Taught Me

Dear Hayley,

As you well know, I have been working on a book about life with Beau. I will visit him this summer and thought I’d share a passage from the book about the last time I saw him at Juniper:

I realize that I am the product of a life with him. He prepared me for this moment in time—for this eventuality —by filling my head with joy and tragedy in equal measure. Maybe Beau wasn’t just trying to stave off the disease. Maybe he was trying to get me ready for his certain demise. He would die of something one day, if not Alzheimer’s.

But maybe he was more worried about me getting the disease, and what he was fighting for all his life was my future—not his. Beau wanted to make me smarter, not to be a Bercaw, per se, but to stave off this Bercaw disease. He brought me up to be courageous and spiritual in the hopes that I could handle whatever came to pass. And he expanded my imagination, by reading books and seeing the world, so I could see the impact of Alzheimer’s on society—not only our family—and eventually write about it.

Beauregard Lee Bercaw believed anything was possible.

He raised me to believe in fairy tales and Hindu gods.

He raised me to see that a white American man born in the Philippines could become an African tribal chief.

He raised me to understand that kittens must drown sometimes, and that mermaids don’t always have tail fins.

And now, everything that once occupied his head has been transferred to mine. There is nothing left to say.  

I finally understand him.

The end.

Love,

Nancy

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