Alzheimer's disease took my father-in-law from our family almost two years ago. Rep. Edward R. Roybal (Op-Ed Page, Dec. 25) called the illness "vicious." I hasten to agree; it devastates patients and their families. Our Dad was among the "lucky" ones! From that shocking moment when the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease became a reality rather than a guess, his suffering was short-lived. For that, he was fortunate; we who loved him deeply were spared.
Effortlessly, happily, we continue to remember and cherish Dad, a special gentleman, a devoted father. And, effortlessly, we forget the Alzheimer's--pain recedes so quickly in memory. But we must not allow that to happen. For the sake of our family and all the other Alzheimer families who comprise the rapidly escalating statistics that Roybal discusses, we must remember. For our loved ones who suddenly forget how to tie their shoes, who look accusingly into the mirror and mutter, " . . . Who is that?" who grab a beloved child's fingers in a vice-like grip, "Why are you doing this to me . . . ?" who scream "police" from a balcony for no rational reason--we must remember!
Some say the mind is destroyed by Alzheimer's; I never believed it. Periodically, when we said "Goodby, Dad, we're returning to California, see you next visit," he would answer, "OK, sweetie" and, to his nurse, "Don't you go!" And they said his mind had gone!