We’re nearing the second anniversary of my father’s death. So much has happened since April 2, 2012. A journey of grief and legacy. Forward momentum followed by backsliding.
BRAIN IN A JAR was published in 2013 thanks to Larry and Sheila and Steve at Broadstone Books. I imagine that my father would have loved the fact that a true Southern Gentleman, Larry Moore, published BRAIN IN A JAR. I wish I could have seen the two of them at supper. My dad would be saying, “You sure are a good man,” to Larry. Then, they would have talked about cameras, wine and travel.
The Indian Subcontinent version will debut in April or May of this year, thanks to my gorgeous agent Priya. My father also would love the fact that a book about him will be available in a country that challenged his mind. Beau was a Hindi aficionado–even naming his boat “Garuda” in honor of Vishnu’s mount. Although my dad was a Christian, I’m pretty sure he believed that God had no religion. God is in the Taj Mahal. God is in the Pyramids. God is in Chattanooga Choo-Choo. God lives in your children.
Sharing my dad’s brain, and my story, through BRAIN IN A JAR has been a remarkable experience. Whenever I have the opportunity to speak about my book and Beau, he’s alive again in me.
But every once in a while, I’m met with someone in the audience who is suffering so much that I’m thrown back into the worst days of my father’s illness. And all of a sudden, legacy takes a backseat to grief.
Yesterday offered one of those moments.
I was spending the week visiting with my mother, who has moved into a Senior Living Community. It’s a lovely place, but of course it suggests that my mom is getting older and may be in her last residence. She’s doing great and is very vibrant and competent. Still, it’s tough for me.
My mother signed me up to speak about BRAIN IN A JAR with the residents of Coral Oaks. I had a good turnout of about a dozen or so. I felt that I gave one of the best talks of my life. I laughed a lot. The audience laughed a lot. BEAU WAS FUNNY as well as BRILLIANT. It was lots of fun to share him with them.
I took questions at the end of my talk. One of the first hands to go up was a woman with oxygen attached to her nose through a tube. She had a British accent.
“I am depressed,” she said, crying. “I lost my husband to Alzheimer’s. And now my partner has it. Your talk made me even more depressed.”
I looked at her with all the love in my heart and in my eyes. What could I say? She’s in this hell twice now? I told her how I’d tried to persevere despite my father’s illness by writing.
With tears streaming down her face, right next to her oxygen tube, she said, “It’s just words.”
She was right, I only had words to offer. I have no treatment, no cure. Just a story. Does it really help?
I don’t know.
I asked my friend Kelly Dineen how to think about this situation. Kelly is a hotshot clinical psychologist in Chicago. She said, “Well, that woman is lucky to have found love twice in one lifetime. Very few can say that.”
She’s exactly right.
So I pray to the God of all Love that one day I can hand out medicine instead of my book. A pill that stops Alzheimer’s in its tracks.
Until then, I’ll keep telling the story of a man who fought AD with everything he had. The story of courage in the face of a curse. A man who taught me that words do matter.
And that love matters most.