My father-in-law, a good, kind, brilliant man, is slipping into dementia.

He calls me to tell me that he is on the street in front of our house, asking me to let him in. But he is in fact 300 miles away, at his own home.

He is a wonderful, good, kind man. He was born into the deepest poverty one can find in America. He served his country with distinction, then put himself through college and graduate school. He became a biology professor at a major research university. He was, insofar as I can tell, universally beloved by his students. Every year, the graduate students in his department put on a musical revue, and every year one of the songs lampooned him – the warmest sign of affection from graduate students.

He taught me to love baseball, and how to score a game. As he lost his sight, he lost the ability to score games on paper. But he has an internal scorecard as accurate as mine on paper. He will say, in the seventh inning of a ballgame, “I don’t believe Andy has gone to three balls on any batter.” I will look at my card, and find that he is right.

It is heartbreaking to watch him leave before his time.


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