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Dead Presidents Always Blow My Mind

by Karl Waldbauer

A damn shame the man had to die the way he did. Yeah, he was old, real old, but for the love-of-Christ not Alzheimer’s! Thought about his family. They suffered more than he did, no doubt.
Then it moved closer to home, way closer than I wanted to consider. Close enough to make my heart beat faster. Make my palms sweat. Make me think about someone other than myself.
That someone is a friend.
Talented, aware, sensitive to every nuance in life. Bright. That friend is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, and I’ve know a lot. My family is full of them. Brilliant, dysfunctional people, but I digress. Both of his parents died with Alzheimer’s. Both! I’ll do whatever I can if it ever happened to him. Whatever it is that he might want done. Whatever it takes!
Selfless of me?
Maybe.
Maybe not.
I depend on that mind to ground me when I’m off on some esoteric tangent. I reel him in when he’s traveled up a dead end path, as well. Friends, that’s what we are.
What we will remain.
Always.
Then the thunder ball struck. Struck hard. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia. Like his mother’s dementia.
Jesus Christ! My grandmother! Same line of DNA there, right? I hope my buddy leaves drugs for me on my night stand or puts something in my coffee if one day I can’t remember his name.
If I think my dog who died in 1990 is standing by my bed.
If I wander off and forget where I live.
A damn shame if I had to die the way that very old man died.

06/07/2004

Author's Note: In case anyone is shedding tears over former president Reagan, while you're at it, shed some tears for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who died of AIDS because not only would he not address the epidemic publicly until the end of his second term, but also because he withheld federal monies for research into the disease. My step-brother is among those people martyred by his uncaring and homophobic administration.

Posted on 06/08/2004
Copyright © 2022 Karl Waldbauer

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 06/11/04 at 01:24 PM

Worthy grasp and expression of the tragedy. In Reagen's case all the more ironic, having done so much in his life...been a movie star...two term President...forced an end to the Cold War, and yet in the end, not remembering any of it.

Posted by Kourosh Taheri-Golvarzi on 04/11/05 at 09:03 AM

$#%@ the establishment. We're all people. Equal rights are for everyone, and it's about damn time that everyone had them. I'm really sorry to hear about your step-brother being martyred for a cause that didn't have to be. Stay strong, brothaman!!

Posted by Joan Serratelli on 04/11/06 at 12:22 PM

" I hope my buddy leaves drugs for me on my night stand or puts something in my coffee if one day I cant remember his name" Well said- can't say I disagree! Thought provoking, very well done.

Posted by Junemarie Roldan on 07/21/06 at 04:23 PM

I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. Especially as it didn't have to be. As far as Reagen goes, the best role he's ever played, was 'Bedtime for Bonzo.'

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