Monday, May 5, 2014

An Absent Mind

Today's special guest is Eric Rill. Eric was born in Montreal and graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts, and from UCLA with an MBA. He held several executive positions in the hospitality industry, including president of a global hotel group. His hobbies include trekking, scuba diving, and collecting antique carpets.  Eric has two sons and divides his time between his residence in Panama and international travel. You can reach him at his website at:


Almost 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. Statistics show around 85,000 Americans die each year from this dreaded disease—way down the list of causes of death, after stroke, respiratory disease, and, of course, heart disease and cancer.
 Okay, so what, you’re thinking? Well, there was a study just finished at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease center in Chicago that said the number is probably closer to 500,000 a year. Yes, that’s right—over a half million a year!
But how can that be?
Alzheimer’s patients usually die from pneumonia or some other cause like a breakdown of vital organs. And that may indeed be the final cause, but in most of these cases it was Alzheimer’s that produced the fatal blow.
There is a stigma with Alzheimer’s, one that has to be changed. It is not the patient who curses, screams, wanders, etc. It is this insidious disease that takes over their minds and bodies. Yet, too often, the death certificate lists something besides Alzheimer’s.
I read in a recent article that when Ronald Reagan, who suffered from Alzheimer’s for years, died, his death certificate listed pneumonia.
Maybe the stigma would disappear, or at least lessen, if governments would spend more on research. Alzheimer’s research in the United States is far down the list compared to heart disease and cancer—the former being four times as much and the latter over ten times. And the diagnosis of those diseases is diminishing, while Alzheimer’s rates soar.
It seems to me, just from a budgetary view, that the wise thing to do would be to increase research spending, because down the road, and not too far down, the costs of health care for these patients will be staggering. If compassion and caring about these patients is not a top government priority, then at least their concern about dollars should be. It’s terrible to think that it takes economic considerations, but if that’s what it takes for governments to address the problem, so be it. But let’s get this terrible disease to the forefront. No one should be ashamed that a loved one has Alzheimer’s.


A riveting new novel from Eric Rill, author of Pinnacle of Deceit and The Innocent Traitor, is about a race against time. The ticking time bomb is Saul Reimer’s sanity. His Alzheimer’s is going to be the catalyst that will either bring his family together or tear it apart.


Saul: The Façade

It’s been almost two years since they told me how sick and useless I was. I am able to keep it more or less together most days. And I stress days, because by dinnertime my mind is exhausted. I never knew you could have an exhausted mind, but I do now. The sheer weight of having to pretend I am normal all day for my friends, or the store clerks, feels like a boulder around my neck. What happens toward sundown is like when you hear the snap, crackle, and pop when the transistors in your old television go bad. Everything numbs and becomes foggy. Sights, sounds, and smells meld into a ball and explode toward the sky. It’s as if I’m not the same person I was when I got up.

As of now anyway, I can see everything I want to say as clear as ice. It’s right there on a blackboard in front of me, spelled out perfectly. But then to actually say what’s written on the blackboard isn’t always a piece of cake. Sometimes it’s easy, like it is right now. I know what I’m saying to you is coherent and that my vocabulary is correct—but that could suddenly change and become difficult, sometimes impossible.

In the morning, I can be happy—well, maybe not happy, but not feeling sorry for myself. It’s different by lunch—if I remember to eat, and I generally do because it’s on my list, although I have been known to leave my pad somewhere and not be able to find it; if that happens, Monique usually reminds me. At least I think she does. Regardless, by lunchtime things generally start to go downhill.

Today, while I was sitting in my easy chair, she bent down to kiss me and brought her hand quickly to her mouth.

“Whew,” she said, or something like that. “You didn’t brush your teeth. Why did you check it off?”

I didn’t bother answering, not because she was interrupting my soap opera—I really wasn’t focusing anyway—but because I didn’t know the answer. Maybe I didn’t check the toothbrush to see if it was wet or dry, like I’ve been doing. Then she scolded me, like it was my fault. First they tell you you’re sick because you can’t remember anything and then they give you hell for not remembering.

The doorbell rang, and Monique disappeared for a minute, reappearing with Arthur Winslow in tow. I was standing there with the telephone receiver in my hand. Monique took it from me and put it back in the cradle.

Arthur was in high school with me and was actually the one who squealed to the principal that I was the one who decked Ian Coulter. Coulter, even though one of the great anti-Semites of all time, lived by a code of honor and wouldn’t have turned me in, but Arthur did, and I understand why. You see, Arthur was the goody-goody of the class. He would have turned in his own mother if she had done something wrong. But other than squealing on me, he was a true and trusted friend.

Arthur lives down the street—at least I think he still does—and faithfully drops in to see me. Sometimes I think he has nothing else to do. I can’t tell if he has missed any days visiting, or, if so, how many, but that doesn’t matter now. What I do know is he cares, and I hope he keeps coming, even if I don’t recognize him one day.

I already know that there will come a time when I won’t know him, or people like Bernie. Frankly, I don’t give a damn if I don’t recognize Bernie—in fact, that could be the Lord’s gift to me, something to make up for what lies ahead. What does bother me—in fact, scares the hell out of me—is not recognizing the kids. As inconceivable as that seems, they say it will happen as sure as night follows day. Who, you may ask, are they? I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother would always quote the almighty they. I would ask her, “Who are they, Granny?” She would always answer, “You know, they.” I think maybe she had Alzheimer’s!


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