Yesterday, one of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, announced that he has early-onset Alzheimer's. (screenprint of announcement) Honestly I think I cried harder over that than I did my father's diagnosis. You know why? Because now I KNOW. With my dad, I didn't know. I knew only what I now call "Hollywood Alzheimer's" (like in The Notebook), which was a sad, gentle thing, with moments of total lucidity and memory recall. Now I know the truth--the confusion, the frustration, the fear, the violence, how it feels when your father looks at you with no recognition and says "Why are you here?"
Terry Pratchett, being a funny and upbeat sort of guy, doesn't seem overly upset at the news. In his announcement, he says, "We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism....Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)" He concludes with, "I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell."
I have read about half of his Discworld books and own about a quarter of them. They are wonderful, funny and entertaining. My hope for him, if I'm allowed to hope for him, is that as the disease progresses, he thinks he lives there in Ankh-Morpork and forgets this world, rather than vice versa.
What a terrible fate to befall someone who has delighted so many people.