I went up to Philly on Thursday to talk with my daughter Karin about my Alzheimer’s. Marja had previously mentioned something to her about the concern over my cognitive state and Karin had then apparently talked with Laurel on the phone so I wasn’t dropping the same bomb on Karin as I had with Laurel and Kai. We went for a long walk. Later I talked more briefly with her husband Gabriel. The conversations were straightforward without much obvious emotional reaction. Karin and Gabriel have been planning to spend a year in India while Gabriel does his graduate study. After our talk, Karin wondered about the wisdom of the plan, but I hope (and expect) they will carry through.
On our evening walk Marja wondered if I would be disappointed if it turned out that the diagnosis was wrong. I think there was some passive-aggressiveness in the question. She has wanted to hang on to the possibility that this isn’t Alzheimer’s and has been sometimes irritated when I’ve talked as if it were certain. I can’t blame her. Perhaps my insistence has been passive aggression, too, a way of keeping all of the uncertainty about this disease at arm’s length.
And, maybe she’s right that I would have difficulty if the diagnosis were wrong. I have in some real way integrated the diagnosis into my self-image. And life is in some way easier. I have felt freedom to let go of all the worry and uncertainty around my writing. I do feel some excitement about a new phase in my life as I begin to sort through and empty my file cabinet or begin to give away some of my books. I can step out of the rut and leave what I’m doing without having to worry about finding something else. Something else has already been chosen for me. It does make my life easier.
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