Author Archives: danawalrath

Through the Looking Glass

A patch of four-leaf clover grew in the field outside my fourth grade classroom. Still years before ninth grade biology, before I understood genetics, I had noticed that four-leaf clovers grew together, spreading their luck to each other, so there would … Continue reading

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The Lobster Quadrille

the lobster quadrille My mother, Alice, practiced dying on a regular basis. “Get a shower curtain or something to put under me, would you?” In the middle of Alzheimer’s disease, she retained the bit of scientific knowledge that our bodies … Continue reading

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Falling Slowly

Remember Dave? He was “Up” a tree back in March. Alice still sees him when she looks up. Right after Dave died in August of 2006, Alice explained her memory loss to me: “It’s like a curtain dropped and I can’t … Continue reading

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Because You Are My Mother

“Dana, why are you so good to me?”   I had just finished helping Alice get dressed. Picking out clothes to wear and getting them on was long since too hard. Now I stood behind her brushing her hair as she sat at her … Continue reading

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Umbillicus

Umbilicus I was never close to my mother, not counting those first nine months and the six months that followed when she breastfed me unlike most mothers in the scientific 1960s. “We’re mammals! Of course I breastfed you,” she had … Continue reading

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Light, Years, Later

Light, Years, Later “This meat is delicious,” Alice said as she scarfed down another big bite of fresh grilled steak. Alzheimer’s brought out her carnivorous streak. Peter and I accommodated. “I don’t dare ask where you got it.” Alice glanced … Continue reading

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Sundowning

In 1973, my parents moved up in life. Fifty-five vertical steps from the street to the front door gave us excellent cardiovascular health along with a spectacular view of the Hudson River and the Palisades cliffs beyond. From her bedroom, … Continue reading

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Sublimierung und Selbstverachtung

Sublimierung und selbstverachtung “Dana, can you come here?” Alice called from the sofa, her voice high and panicked, as though a bat might be circling overhead. The blanket that I had tucked loosely around her toes at the start of her nap … Continue reading

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It Takes a Village (with a Dog)

It takes a village My mother, Alice, and her sister sublimated their sibling rivalry through their respective preferences for cats and dogs. I grew up in the cat family, but when I moved my own family to Vermont, I replaced the aloof, … Continue reading

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Fairy Pirates

Alice escapes the captivity of Alzheimer’s through story. Pirates, the ultimate hostage takers, often lend her a hand. I haven’t seen these pirates myself, but it’s clear they are pirates with a dashing Johnny Depp-ness, or the crimson glow of … Continue reading

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