Al Zimmer Comes to Call

Years ago, when a television news show discussed Alzheimer’s disease, my mother misheard the name as “Al Zimmer’s disease.” It became a running gag in our family to refer to a spell of forgetfulness as a visit from Al Zimmer. The joke lost its humor six years ago. That was when we learned that Al Zimmer had come to call on my father and had taken up permanent residence.

When the doctor informed Dad that he had Alzheimer’s disease, Al Zimmer translated this to Dad as, “We want you to take extra pills to make you smarter.” There was no point in trying to correct him. When Al Zimmer holds his hands over Dad’s ears, the facts have little chance of filtering through his fingers. When Al Zimmer plants a lopsided idea in Dad’s head, you can’t pry it out with the proverbial crowbar.

From time to time, though, my father’s big heart evicts the uninvited guest—at least temporarily. One such occasion was my niece Angie’s wedding, the year after Dad’s diagnosis. Continue reading