Sunday, June 18, 2006

Memory

This morning's This American Life, predictably, was about fathers.

The second story recounted a son taking his father, suffering from Alzheimer's, on a trip to visit the old neighborhood:

Photographer Joel Meyerowitz decided to go on a last big trip with his father Hy (on the left), who has Alzheimer's. Joel also brought his own son. The purpose of the trip? To try to get close to a part of Hy's personality that Alzheimer's has eradicated, to see if it might be possible to jumpstart some of his memories.


Toward the end, Meyerowitz (the narrator) said that his father's strongest memories were of being unnoticed, unloved. He included his father's own voice, saying over and over, No one saw me. Even Sally [his wife]. She never saw me.

So raw.

Then my father called (as he always does on Sunday mornings, even if it's Father's Day and I might more appropriately call him). He turns 80 next week, and I'll be taking a little secret trip to TX next weekend to celebrate with him and the rest of the family. His short-term memory is very, very fragile. Talking to him, with that other father's tortured fragments of memory in my head, was disorienting, strange.

The last time I saw his brother, my uncle, he must have been in his mid 80s. It was a family reunion. I hadn't seen him for a few years. When I greeted him, happy to see him, he greeted me. Without recognition. He said to a member of his immediate family that he didn't know anyone there, at this family reunion. Only my father.

My father. My memory. Another person's story. For Father's Day.

2 comments:

Becky Howard said...

Oh. my. Peace to you, sister.

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