The Head is an Overstated Organ

Robert Patterson, who has Alzheimer's disease, speaks with his wife, Karen, from StoryCorps:

Robert and Karen Patterson Robert: I feel like I’m the same person, but I know I’m kind of a big load to deal with.

Karen: You know how we talk sometimes about who we really are. What is our essence? Memories are not who you are.

Robert: Well, I think one thing 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 ten minutes ago, but I’m much more present, I think.

Karen: Do you think about the future?

Robert: I know that there’s probably a bad time that comes in the future. This disease gets more wicked, but I don’t obsess on it. I do a nice job of ignoring it.

Karen: With this disease, you moved from somebody that lived in their head a lot to somebody who lived in their heart.

Robert: The head is an overstated organ; the heart is where all the action is. I remember things that occur in my heart much better than things in my head: having fun with the kids, laughing, our new grandchild.”

Karen: Speaking of this new grandchild, is there something you’d like him to know?

Robert: I would like him to know that I fell in love with him the first time I saw him in the hospital. And every time I see that sweet little face, it just makes me feel good. I’m looking forward to 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. It talked about the greatest thing you could do if you loved somebody, that you 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 can care for you. I always will.

Robert: You always have. Thank you.