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StoryCorps has always been one of my favorite Podcasts from NPR. Not only do I firmly believe the truth of their tagline, "Every voice matters" but I think that everyone has a story and every story should have a platform to be told. Some of my greatest memories in life thus far have been listening to the stories of my grandparents and how they lived way before I came along.
Listening to this podcast I was particularly touched and needed to share it with you all. It features Bob Patterson and his wife Karen and was recorded in Los Angeles in partnership with the memory loss initiative. Bob was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008 and Karen has been by his side as his partner and caretaker every step of the way. Bob speaks here about how the disease has changed him.
"Bob: I feel like I’m the same person but I know that I’m kind of a big load to deal with (laughing).
Karen: You know how we talk sometimes about who we really are, what is our essence. Memories are not who you are.
Bob: Well, I…I think, one thing that I experience with Alzheimer’s is I live in the moment cause I, can’t remember what happened yesterday. I can’t remember what happened 10 minutes ago. But I’m much more present I think.
Karen: Do you think about the future?
Bob: I know that there is probably a bad time that comes in the future. This disease gets more wicked. But, I don’t obsess on it and I just do a nice job of ignoring it.
Karen: With this disease you’ve moved from somebody that lived in their head a lot to somebody that lives in your heart.
Bob: The head is an overstated organ (chuckles along with Karen). The heart is where all the action is. And I can remember things that occur in my heart much better than things that occur in my head…having fun with the kids, laughing, our new grandchild.
Karen: Speaking of this new grandchild; is there something that you’d like him to know?
Bob: (getting choked up) I would like him to know that I feel in love with him the first time I saw him in the hospital (voice very weak). And every time I see that sweet little face, just makes me feel good. I’m looking forward to, uh, hanging with him and teaching him things that I think are really important. That’s my job for the rest of my life.
Karen: I don’t know if you even remember this but once we were listening to a book on tape and it talked about the greatest thing you could do if you loved somebody was hope that you (getting choked up) would be the one that was left. And that you would be the one, that could care for your lover. You are not alone. And I’m honored that I’m the one that could care for you (spoken through tears). I always will.
Bob: You always have (spoken through tears). Thank you."
The love that these two share is more than apparent and I loved listening to how they related to each other but also how they see the disease. I love that her perspective is that it is not memories that make you who you are, it is your essence. I love that his perspective is that the disease allows him to be more in the moment and to live from his heart and not his head.