Tense about Verbs

Dear Verbs,

You and Alzheimer’s are a bad mix. With other diseases, there is a dividing line between present and past tense. Death. Before it we say that someone “is”  and afterward we say that someone “was.”  With Alzheimer’s, however, we start using the past tense to talk about a loved one with the disease even though they are very much alive.

I noticed this phenomena the other day when I was writing a bio about my father for the fellowship in his name at the University of Florida. I found myself saying things like he “was” a neurologist and he “was” a good doctor.

I looked at the words for a long time, and tried to rewrite the whole thing to avoid phrases in which I was temped to use past tense. But I couldn’t do it. The ravages of AD make it impossible to speak about my father as if he is presently doing things like he did.

I suppose the switch happens unconsciously. Maybe about the time we see our loved one reach the end of their “cognitive” life. But I want to tell you that my father still IS a very sweet person with the biggest grin in the history of the world. And I WILL always love him.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Suzanne Stimik says:

    beautifully said and profoundly understood. My Dad was before he was as well.

  2. nancybercaw says:

    You are a loving and wonderful daughter!

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