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El Loco Final Essay

Michael McCaffery


December 13, 2022



Some of my Readers (notice I capitalize Readers to denote their importance) will be cheering and doing high-fives at this pronouncement.  A few will shed a tear or two, and lament the loss of such an intelligent and wry wit to the well-being and much needed humor in the world, and some will wonder what in the world they have just encountered, and furiously look for the delete key and/or the nearest exit.


For those left, hold on to your hats.  I am in the middle stages of my ongoing dementia, have some memory loss (others disagree with my assessment, saying it is massive and ongoing, but not to my face), yet the good news is that my writing boundaries have finally been erased, and it is no-holds-barred (as the wrestling announcements used to say), and so who knows what will come out if this?  Least of all, me.


Seriously, though – a phrase I almost never use – I want to write fully about what it is like to have dementia.  It is like regular life, except I can’t remember some things, and sometimes I know I can’t remember them, and other times I don’t know that I can’t remember them.  There.  That’s it.  Actually pretty simple.


I am told, and I am prepared to accept, that it will get worse (defined as less and less memory as time goes by – those last four words being a good title for a song only as sung by Scatman Crothers – worth Googling that famous clip from the movie “Casablanca”) and so that is it.  So, what’s it like?


Like everything else, actually.  I am mostly not aware of it, unless I try to remember things, and cannot do so, and then it is often embarrassing, but acceptance it the road to peace, as the clinicians and psychiatrists say.


However, when I cannot remember things that I cannot remember (follow me closely here) then it is as if it never happened, and it disappears from my fragile memory bank.


Since I want to write something useful, and have nothing useful to say, this I suppose wraps it up.  However, I do not like to quit, while on a roll, so I will have another sip of my preferred drug nowadays, coffee, and go for it.


I was diagnosed with dementia about three years ago, and with some powerful medications, have slowed the progress, even though it cannot be stopped.  This duration is a bit unusual, as you can see I am also.  So I have become a bit more human, somewhat more available, less prone to embarrassment at my often silly antics, and always keep in mind my worst fear as a teenager:  “What if They don’t invite me to their parties?   Then I recall that I never went anyway, so “what, me worry?" as Alfred E. Neumann used to say.  (Look up Mad Magazine.)


Parenthetically, I used to love Mad Magazine in the fifties, as it was provocative, hilarious, hugely sophomoric, and took on so many shibboleths and absurdities in the 1950’s society that it had a huge following, especially among weird misfits.  It was also silly and stupid, slipped in social criticism to bypass the censors, and was just the antidote to the fifties.  (Disclaimer:  I sucked up the fifties, as I saw that period as I way out of my self-described miserable life, even though it wasn't, and a way to fit in and be cool.  There were many like me.  I did finally throw away my skinny tie, however, and much of my sarcastic drivel.)


And so here I sit now, in a cold wet and somewhat snowy early morning, with Giordi awaiting the summons to go out and terrorize the surrounding desertscape, dragging his reluctant owner along, and I realize finally, and once again:   It is all good.


And that is all there is, and that is good enough, and I am happy and at peace for the first time (that I can remember) in my life.


As someone once said a long time ago:   “Go thou and do likewise.”


El Loco

December 13, 2022

Santa Fe, New Mexico

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