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By B. Osten

May 4, 2012

At the earliest stage of our relationship "unpredictability" was how my partner referred to my erratic behavior due to my bi-polar disorder and years of drug abuse. It's a word I'm glad is gone, but sadly regret where it went. You see, his eighty-five year old mother is on the onset of dementia. Her spells of forgetfulness are sporadic and overwhelming. The last year for my partner has been trying and unforgiving. A true test of his will, love and devotion. One he was unprepared for, yet confronts wholeheartedly.

I myself am no stranger to the disease. My father had dementia. I'll never forget the day it took his life thirty-two years ago on that February morning. I was awakened by an icy breeze and caught a glimpse of my father rushing out the front door. I jumped up from the sofa bed and ran outside to bring him back in. I remember he was soft-spoken and had an eerie calmness about him. Almost hypnotic. He told me he was just going up to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes. I could see the store from where I was standing and figured he would be alright. So, I buttoned up his coat and sent him on his way. That decision would come back to haunt me for most of my adult life.

A snow storm during the night left the city under a blanket of white. I'm sure this and the dementia played a key role in my father's disappearance. Three weeks later he was found dead, floating in the icy river.

Because of my HIV+ status I'm a likely candidate in developing dementia. I have to admit, throughout my life I had more than my fair share of bad memories and five years ago I would have gladly given them up to dementia. Today, I realize to lose even one of them would be losing a part of me. I can only hope that when that time comes, my life is short on this Earth and I'm reunited with the fondest of memories along with my loved ones on the other side.

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