For an hour a week I write with a man who has Alzheimer’s disease. We write about the yellow leaves that fall on his front lawn. We write about eating Thanksgiving turkey and Brussels sprouts. We write about going for walks with a dog name Bo. We don’t write stories about the man as a young boy or raising his family or his career days. Those memories are locked away in a place where only Alzheimer’s has the key.
From the time we’re born, we start building memories and telling stories from them. When our memories are gone, what happens to us? Are we our memories?
Who am I without my recollection of a life lived? What’s my personality without the anecdotes of where I was born or when I went fishing with my dad and he fell asleep and pushed me into the creek? What would I be like if I didn’t have stories to share with family and friends and strangers? Who would I be?
In the end, I don’t think memory loss diminishes the person. A person is still him or herself despite a lack of reminiscing about the past. They still create moments of joy every day.