Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Alzhiemer's Research Charity Drive

Terry Pratchett, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's, has given half a million pounds (about one million dollars) to Alzhiemer's research foundations. There's a charity drive on challenging his fans to collectively match his donation.

Match it For Pratchett

Look, it's kind of hard for me to come up with words to push this. There's a lot worthwhile places to put a spare couple bucks. This one, though, is pretty important to me. My Great-Grandmother had Alzheimer's, and I got to see just how devastating this illness is at a very young age. And honestly, it scares me more than anything else that happens when you grow up. I had relatives with Diabetes, heart problems, cancer, arthritis and a host of illnesses. I had one grandmother who constantly advised me never to get old. But none of that, even the stuff keeping people in their bed constantly seemed to me to be as horrible as Alzheimer's. Her daughter, a woman who had spent a good deal of time traveling the world before her mother got ill, stayed with her to take care of her. We went over her house regularly. It was where all the family gatherings were. She didn't usually seem to recognize us. There was one Halloween when she had no candy, and we came there to trick or treat. So she went to give us some of those chalky Canadian mints she kept around. I was young, and we'd just had a long lecture on safe trick-or-treating, and I said I wasn't supposed to take something unwrapped. I'll never forget her posture, I hadn't realized I'd said something wrong but it was clear I had. She seemed to not have caught up with the conversation. We were talking more around her than to her. It was how it always was there, though, but this was the first time she seemed self-conscious about it to me. I still feel guilty about that.

And I remember when I got older and snuck upstairs in my Great-Grandmother's house I once found a room full of paintings. Pretty nature scenes, mostly, in those ornate golden wood frames. A few of them weren't finished. It turned out she'd painted not only them, but a picture that had been hanging in our living room as long as I could remember. I'd always been a kid who loved drawing and writing and making up stories, and I had trouble with the art so I was very impressed with her talent. That was the saddest thing of all, I think. Having had so much talent before. And now not recognizing her grandkids.

Alzheimer's is scarier than death. Consider a donation, or at least spreading the word.


  1. Besides, Pratchett did say he'd "eat the arse out of a dead mole" if he thought it would help.

  2. Consider the word spread.

    Thank you for sharing this.