The United Nations of Alzheimer’s Disease

Dear Hayley,

I’m wondering how your father is doing. Please let me know soon. It’s funny, I don’t know him but I do miss him.

People who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s tend to feel all alone, but lately I’ve been thinking that we’re all in this together—no matter how far apart physically, culturally or even economically.

The entire world is affected, and thereby united, by a disease that seems like something we might have seen on the Twilight Zone.

To think that I am sharing sadness with someone in Bangalore or Lahore is somehow both comforting and connecting. Maybe Alzheimer’s Disease will do what the United Nations never could. This disease makes me want to hug, not hurt. Could an illness save us all?

Beau took a fall last week and wound up in the ER. He got a black eye and a few stitches on his head. Nora said he looked really frightened while waiting in the ER. What’s most troubling to me is the latter. Falling happens to all sorts of older folks, and quite frequently to Bercaws who are notoriously clumsy on land. But Beau being confused in the ER is the anomaly. He spent 40-plus years in that environment. He knew it like the back of his hand.

I’m working on a new project to keep Beau’s memory alive. The memory of him, though, not his actual memory. The University of Florida is helping us create the Beauregard Lee Bercaw Fellowship. The fund will help a young medical student who wants to study neurology, and specifically Alzheimer’s and dementia, but doesn’t have the funds to pursue this kind of research. Beau himself was a research fellow at UF.

I think it will be a beautiful way to honor my father. And it will allow a new story to begin for someone else. A story not unlike “Brain in a Jar,” in which a wonderful, adventuresome young neurologist takes on the world and falls in love with it.

Love,

Nancy

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