Laying All to Rest

The end. That’s how this begins. We buried the ashes of Beauregard Lee Bercaw, M.D. on August 22. The event was more than a final act — it was a homecoming, too. My father grew up on a farm in Palmyra, Virginia with his three older brothers. Beau was a surprise child arriving seven years after…

The Heart of the (Grey) Matter

Dears, For weeks now, I’ve been thinking about the next phase of my jarred life. The brain motif perfectly captured my grandfather and father’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Heck, it wasn’t even a symbol. It was real. Dad kept grand-dad’s brain in a jar. But I am me, not he. And I am moving into…

Voluntary Reactions

Dears, I wanted to share some of the wonderful words people have sent me after reading Brain in a Jar.  I have chosen to share the responses from folks whom I don’t know and who would have no reason to write to me except to share their heartfelt reactions.  (Some of these were sent to me…

Introducing the BIAJ Book Website

Dears, I can’t wait a moment longer. I have to share the website that my cousin Sam Rixey created for the book launch and tour. We are still adding content, but the design is complete. HERE IT IS I’ll let the website do all the talking this evening. I’m silenced by my cousin’s talent. Love,…

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Dears, Fall has arrived in Vermont. My hair is straight from the lack of humidity. The leaves covering our lawn are crunchy and colorful. Last year about this time, I gathered up a vibrant selection of Fall leaves, laminated them, and sent them to Beau. They were passed around the residents of Juniper Memory Care…

ApoE + LDL = AD? (And what about the RNC?)

Dear Fellow Dumb-Dumbs and Dilettantes, Beau and I watched the Kentucky Derby together (along with the Preakness and Belmont Stakes) throughout my childhood. When I was 17—–the year Gato del Sol was running for the roses—–I asked Beau to explain the horse-racing odds to me. “What is the different between 8-3 and 3-8?” I said….

All Tomorrow’s Parties

Dears, Tomorrow I am speaking FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER on the processs of writing Brain in a Jar. I’ve spoken about my dad and I’ve spoken about Alzheimer’s and I’ve read from the BIAJ manuscript. But I have yet to tell people how my grandfather’s atrophied brain in a jar sparked a story, then…

Speaking Swahili with Beezlebub

Dear Readers, Many years ago (25 to be exact), when I was studying Swahili in Kenya as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I had a recurring dream in which I would call my father and only be able to speak in that language. I understood his English, but I could only answer in Swahili. I think…

Weird, Little Thingys

Dear Readers, This morning, as I wandered into the little coffee shop at UVM, I took notice of a cute, little, brand-new power-bar thingy at the register. It had oats and nuts and dried fruit and had appealing packaging. “Oh, I love that!” I said. “Beau would love that! I’ll get him one.” Uh. Oh….

Children of the Occupation, and Alzheimer’s

Dearest Readers, My cousin Nancy Dunlap Bercaw was here this last weekend and we spent a great deal of time talking about our families. She noted that our parents and some of us cousins were Children of the Occupation. My dad was born in Manila. I was born nearby at Clark Air Base. That Nancy…

Our Fathers Who Art in Heaven

Dear Dad, There’s only one call I have ever made on Father’s Day. And this is the first time I won’t make that call. Even last year, when you began your steep decline, the aides at Juniper brought you to the phone. You didn’t say much but I screamed I LOVE YOU OLE DAD into…