Basement Elegy

My dad and siblings are cleaning out my parents’ basement this weekend. I get occasional texts from my sister with a photo of an Irish wool sweater, or the nurse’s costume Nana made me one Halloween, so tiny it looks like it was made for a doll: “Do you want this?” No, to the wool sweater (I’m allergic). Yes, to the nurse costume (I’m nostalgic). But I really don’t want anything that’s in the basement; I want the basement. The […]

The Strange, New World of Alzheimer’s

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease almost two years ago, and her cognitive functions have declined steadily ever since. The disease is relentless, incurable, and inscrutable, but—as my friend Kelly Chaston said of the nonsmoker’s lung cancer that took her life when she was only 48—her illness is not a tragedy. More than 5 million Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, and my mother is one of the lucky few who, like Kelly, has excellent health care, […]