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I had a dream last night that my loved ones, past and present got together for a family reunion. My dad, uncle, aunt, grandmothers, grandfathers and various cousins were together once again spending time with their living relatives for the evening. It was a rollicking occasion with plenty of love, laughs and remembrances to go around. At one point, I saw my grandfather with my sixteen year old niece. He had been living with Alzheimer's disease for five years before he passed earlier this century. She was standing next to him as he sat at a baby grand piano. They looked like an old-style snapshot from when families used to sing heartily around the piano instead of sitting alone in the dark staring at their own private television or computer screen.

As I drew closer to them I realized that my grandfather, rather than playing the keys, was writing down the words to an old song while he sang the lyrics to my niece. He was scribbling furiously as if he were trying to capture the words before they unspooled from his mind like every other memory had done due to this insidious disease. The tune he was writing and singing was the old Irving Berlin song made famous by Frank Sinatra 'I'll be loving you...always'. He sang the song over and over and as he repeated the words, my niece started to sing with him. Before long they were singing together as if they had always done so. My grandfather seemed satisfied realizing that he had passed on something important to the next generation. I could hear her singing the song softly to herself as everyone began leaving for their respective destinations.

Three things stayed with me from this dream. First, that Alzheimer's disease affects all members of a family, since it steals the ability to pass on lessons learned from one generation to another, Second, that eradicating this disease is a battle we must all face until it is conquered, no matter how many years it takes to accomplish and third, that love is always the last thing that a person retains, even after all memories have been stolen away from them. Always.

Gary Barg

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