Charlie Pierce’s father started putting on two pairs of pants at a time in the early 1980s, after he’d retired from school teaching. Then just before Memorial Day in 1984 he went out to buy flowers for the family graves in Worcester, Massachusetts, and disappeared.
Three days later he turned up incoherent in the rain in Montpelier, Vermont-unable to tell the police his name. It was the moment when the family disease, Alzheimer’s, became the family curse. All five siblings in Charlie Pierce’s father’s generation had Alzheimer’s.
So now at 44, the eldest in his own generation, Charlie Pierce looks in the mirror, and into the faces of his children, at the genetic resemblance to his Kerry County Irish forebears and takes daily stock of his memory. He knows all about Alzheimers genetic markers, and says, “no thank you,” to having his own genes tested.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)