Why do I care?


“Feels like a 2-pound bag of coffee,” I said to Mom as I tore open one end of  the unmarked brown paper bag containing Dad’s cremated remains.  I ran my inquiring, but respectful, fingers through the “ashes”.  They seemed more like granules of decomposed granite – small white rocks you find in the bottom of a goldfish bowl, or in this case, the bottom of the ocean where where he now lies.Eight  years prior Dad, Mom, and I sat in an office at the UCSD ’s Alzheimer’s Research facility to receive the results of a multi-disciplined medical investigation into Dad’s declining cognitive skills:  “Alzheimer’s Disease”, said the lead physician who headed medical team, “most likely” as he  punctuated the ambiguity with: “It’s just a guess because it can’t be confirmed until death”.

The confirmation came a few days after holding his ashes in my hands.  I was in a lab at UCSD with a research scientist  who studied the hundred of brains of deceased subjects who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  Before us was a microscope with a slide containing a piece of  Dad’s brain.

“Are you sure you want to do this”, researcher said.  “Yes,” I answered quickly – not bothering to explain I had spent 10 years of watching Dad’s brain cells evaporate and was way beyond being squeamish.  Not to mention I had just let his earthly remains sift through my fingers recently.   I needed to see the proof , the confirmation.  After he explained the nuances of cellular biology and  AD pathology I scanned the slide.  After a few minutes I had seen the damage:  the plaques, the tangles, the brain neuron cells strangled, smothered, Yes, definitely Alzheimer’s Disease, sorry Dad, you died way too early (75).   What caused this insidious long good bye and how does one make the best effors in preventing or at least substantially delaying it it?  Thus this web site/blog.


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