Anne Fleming


In one of the stories in Gay Dwarves of America, “Thorn-blossoms,” the main character’s mother, a journalist, has Alzheimer’s. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and other relatives have had different kinds of dementia, and I drew on those memories, but I also did a little bit of research on Alzheimer’s. There is a remarkable photo of Auguste D., the patient whose case Alois Alzheimer wrote up (on page 2 of the link below). I found myself haunted by that photo and by her answers to Alzheimer’s questions. There is a great and terrible poetry in them.

Nov 26, 1901

She sits on the bed with a helpless expression. What is your

name? Auguste. Last name? Auguste. What is your husband’s

name? Auguste, I think. Your husband? Ah, my husband. She

looks as if she didn’t understand the question. Are you married?

To Auguste. Mrs D? Yes, yes, Auguste D. How long have you been

here? She seems to be trying to remember. Three weeks. What is

this? I show her a pencil. A pen. A purse and key, diary, cigar are

identified correctly. At lunch she eats cauliflower and pork.

Asked what she is eating she answers spinach.


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