The Long Goodbye

It was World Alzheimer’s Day a few days back. I remember reading about how Nancy Reagan took care of former US President Ronald Reagan when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease many years ago. The love, patience and care that go into taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s are phenomenal, especially when someone who was once so vibrant, intelligent and charismatic is struck by this disease. What touched me most was the immense love she had for him as his wife, which was so evident during his presidency and beyond, that books have been written about this loving relationship. For instance, in a book written by biographer Anne Edwards entitled ‘The Reagans: A Portrait of a Marriage’, she shows how Nancy’s constant involvement and devotion were crucial factors in Ronald Reagan’s successful political life. I’m also looking for a book of love letters written by Ronald to Nancy throughout their lives called “I love you, Nancy”, but haven’t been able to find it.

But back to Alzheimer’s. In The West Wing, C.J.’s dad has Alzheimer’s and at times forgets that his daughter is working at the White House, or which day is the general election. I find it touching that there is an entire episode dedicated to this relationship and exploring this illness. In it, C.J. returns to her hometown to visit her dad and to persuade him to seek medical help for his condition. But he refuses because he wants to live the rest of his life with some semblance of control over his life. In this episode, I also learn that Alzheimer’s is sometimes called ‘The Long Goodbye’, because those who have it may still be with us, but not really, as day by day, we slowly lose them…

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~ by irwin on September 29, 2008.

4 Responses to “The Long Goodbye”

  1. yah, its kind of sad to see someone u love slowly atrophy and waste away. i always find it sad to know that perhaps 1 day, i might have to see my loved ones pass on.

    well, isn’t it true that nothing lasts forever? then again, i like to think that its the patience, love and tenderness displayed in such situations that really test what true love and compassion are. 🙂

  2. It’s true that nothing physical and temporal lasts forever, but spirit and soul do and they go on for an eternity. Everyday we are in a process of dying, but it’s only our bodies that are dying; for our souls are growing in maturity and experience, and this is what we need to nurture.

    “How body and soul do slowly unwind, until we are pure spirit in the end.”

  3. Yeah I agree. Only love and soul go on for an eternity. Brilliantly said, Irwin!

  4. […] previous posts, and the ideas of memory and love. (see previous posts: Good movies all in a row and The Long Goodbye) And always, my grandmother… <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face […]

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