Saturday, December 15, 2012

More time, Old time

The French philosopher Henri Bergson once said, "Time is the thing that keeps everything from happening all at once." I've also seen the quote attributed to "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," but whatever the source, it's the principle that I use to understand what has happened to my father since the caulk of Alzheimer's has filled in the synapses of his brain.

To my dad, I am 5 years old and also a novelist. I am 43 years old and also an undergrad at the University of Notre Dame. I am an assistant media relations director for the Houston Astros, and I am not yet old enough to drive. I am a Little League coach in La Grange, Ill., and a Little League player in Bethel Park, Pa. I also work in advertising.

My mother knows me as all these things, too, but she understands time as an organizing principle, that I was each of these things at a different stage of my life. My father does not. To him I am all of these things at once. He lives in an unrelenting present, with no real concept of yesterday or tomorrow.

My mother is easier for him to recognize because she has always been the same, reliable thing to him. But he does sometimes offer to carry her books to class.


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