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April 10, 2014

A date that never sticks to memory

(Continued)

Maybe I could get away with it for a 3-year-old. But 10? When they all have the same starting initial, one is as close as the other. I didn’t name them.

“Hi Rex. How’s school going these days?”

“Nice try, Papa. I’m Rocco. Rex is the naughty one.”

“Oh!”

“Nice outfit, Mazie.”

“I’m Mila. You said I’m your favorite.”

Actually, I tell all my grandchildren that, even if it gets me into trouble sometimes.

I must tell you that despite my occasional memory loss, I’m a lot better off than some people I know who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. They can no longer remember their loved ones, much less the lapse that compounded their illness.

I grieve for the caregivers, those who work in an arena of futility. It is especially hard for them, not the victim. My buddy Ted DeRoche visited his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife inside an institution most every day for eight years.

After she passed, there was no alternative. He continued going to that home and mingling with the other residents.

And at age 90, he still remembers his first climb atop Mount Washington decades ago.

Writer and photographer Tom Vartabedian is retired from The Haverhill Gazette. He contributes this regular column.

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