“It’s a poor sort of memory that works only backwards,” said the Queen to Alice.
Lewis Carroll’s quote seems prescient to those of us who have loved and lost someone to Alzheimer’s disease. How can we carry memories forward?
Wait a minute! I just looked up “prescient” because I’m not sure it means what I think. Turns out that prescient means having foresight, or knowledge of things or events before they exist or happen. So while it may be the wrong word for what I was trying to say, it’s the perfect word to use in conjunction with the quote — and what I’m going to say.
Anyway, where was I? Yes, in a kind of wonderland. I was thinking about time and memory. And trying to reconcile the loss of my father’s memory with ways to help other people keep on remembering. I know this is confusing, but hear me out.
When my father died of Alzheimer’s related complications in 2012 –after devoting his entire career to helping patients with the same disease — my family decided to partner with the University of Florida to create the Dr. Beauregard Bercaw Fellowship. The Fellowship honors Dr. Bercaw’s contributions to neurological medicine by helping to fund the next generation of fearless indefatigable neurologists.
In this way, my father’s memory works toward the future — no longer lost in the past. How prescient, indeed.
According to the folks at UF College of Medicine, there is such a shortage of doctors in this field. “We have about a four month wait to be seen in our memory clinic,” the Director of Development told me. “Can you imagine being worried about this and being told that we’ll see you in four months?”
No, I can’t. But maybe I can help do something about it.
In three weeks, I’ll be at the half-point of my life, assuming I live to 100. Somewhere in those yet-to-be years, I’d like to see the best minds in medicine find a way to preserve brains for the future (and not just in jars).
People have been asking what I want for my birthday, so here’s the answer: Forget about Hallmark cards and mermaid motifs, what I’d really like is donations of any size to my father’s fellowship. Here’s the link.
By helping fund and train more neurologists, everlasting memories have a better chance at becoming reality.
Don’t believe me? Well then, go ask Alice.