On Friday, I went to visit The Arbors, a lovely memory care facility in Shelburne, Vermont, where I will be speaking on Wednesday evening.
What was I thinking?
I was thinking about the good news I had just received from my publisher: Brain in a Jar has left the printer! I was so preoccupied with the idea of the books being en route that I drove two miles past my destination.
I was thinking an Easter thought: “He is risen.” My father is coming back to me.
Then, I pulled into the parking lot and saw the fences around the building. Those fences are important for keeping the residents safe yet still allowing interaction with the outside. But they also made me think of when I used to visit my father in Naples. And suddenly I missed him beyond all belief. Beyond all measure. I wanted to sit in the car and cry my eyes out.
I thought about the fact that my family’s story is being played out over and over again by millions of other families. I thought about driving away, so great was my grief.
I had second thoughts about everything. Why am I re-living this nightmare?
But I think I have something to share with families like mine. The story of the Great Beauregard Lee Bercaw. The man who once put Nike sneakers in my Easter basket because I wanted a pair of the brand-new brand so desperately. He made dreams come true for a lot of people, including his patients. He packed a lot of life–and saved a lot of lives–during his 73 years on Earth.
As I emerged from the car, I realized that it was my time to rise up. To face Alzheimer’s again with courage. To help other people. To cry and laugh with them. To offer, at least metaphorically, some sneakers in a basket. A story filled with surprises and love. A story of hope and redemption. An Easter story of life after death.
Can I do it? I wondered as I opened the front door to The Arbors.
Yes, I think I can.