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Dear Gaffer:

I admire you so. You are quite likely the most intelligent person I have ever met. What's more, you were an actor, not by profession but by avocation. I firmly believed most of the time I was young that you were a leprechaun. Honestly, it is still almost as believable as electrical engineer.

Although I know you always found it a challenge to communicate with children, I believe you managed it better with me than with your daughters. Certainly I have always enjoyed listening to you and learning from you. My interest in Gilbert & Sullivan comes from you, through my mother, and it was always your quotes that led me to ask about it.

On reflection, I think it was you who taught me to love fantasy more than my father. It was you who gave me the entire Oz series, four books a year. Both my father and I have benefitted from your interest in fantasy and science fiction. You brought several excellent authors to our attention. I regret that it is too late to introduce you to some of the authors I have started Daddy reading.

Watching your deterioration has been deeply painful for me on several fronts. Not only is it always difficult to see in someone you love, but I think perhaps your form of dementia is what I fear the most for myself. I am not brave enough. The Alzheimers patient often doesn't realize what happens to them, and often their bodies are not affected. You first became trapped in a body which wouldn't respond. Now, with the body left most often in a nursing unit with a bunch of vegetables, your mind lacks the stimulation to fight it. You know what is happening to you. They say you suffer from severe depression. I don't wonder at that. I would be depressed too, to know I was infirm of body and gradually growing infirm of mind. Although it doesn't always show, I know you are still there. My mother says you are on a new anti-depressant which has brought you back to yourself somewhat, that you are doing crossword puzzles and initiating conversations again. I hope so, truly, and I hope it can maintain you there for a while. I have missed you.

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collacentaur

May 2011

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