Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Winding Stairs

I was with my Dad and, for some reason, I was chasing after him as he was running like a teenager down several flights of stairs. The stairs went round and round and I could see him getting further and further ahead of me no matter how much I tried to reach  him. 
I didn’t intend to write about my dreams twice in a row, but this one just popped out of my head over the breakfast table and said, “This is what you need to talk about.” Yeah, I probably do. 

My Dad has been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, or LBD. If it sounds familiar to you, it may be because Robin Williams was also diagnosed with this condition. In his case, it was exacerbated by depression, with tragic results.

LBD exhibits symptoms of both Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. Several years ago Dad had a couple of incidents where he lost his balance for no apparent reason. In one instance I was standing right behind him and caught him as he tilted backwards into my arms. Later, his walking turned into a shuffle, presumably to keep himself vertical. We don’t know for sure. He can only say that his feet won’t do what he wants them to.

During those same years he also began having memory problems which began with what I referred to as a swiss cheese process of memory loss, where holes appeared in his memories for no apparent reason. Today he lives in the present, retains very little, and has forgotten many of the most day-to-day skills, like using a telephone or how to make coffee. Like all dads, though, he still remembers to turn off the lights!  Even when my Mom wants them to stay on. 

This summer my wife and I have been going through a lot of my parent's papers and possessions to help them get ready to move into retirement living. Besides old bills and contracts and such, we’ve found photographs, letters and memorabilia that gave us glimpses into their past. Dad hand-wrote 15 pages about his 1967 trip to Europe to meet with fellow scientists in England and Germany. It was a very engaging travelogue and when I read it to him and Mom at the dining room table he was quite interested, but repeatedly interrupted to ask who wrote it. It was all new to him. 

Is it any wonder that this was what I dreamed about last night? It’s a simple metaphor. That Guy Who Walks can’t  catch up with That Guy Who Shuffles, his father, who is gradually moving beyond his reach. 


Lewy Body Dementia Association

To learn more about LBD, Whoopi Goldberg recorded a short video introduction that you can watch at Thanks to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (

Photo Credit

(  Not Just Cute: Intentional Whole Child Development — a blog written by Amanda Morgan. She gave photo credit to Shi Yali, but with a broken hyperlink. 


  1. So sad. I wish him and your family the best in these trying times Eric. You dad is a good man.

  2. Thanks, Greg. I appreciate the well wishes.