Fade to Light

One of the most terrifying aspects of Alzheimer’s disease is that those afflicted can seldom tell us what it is like.

  1. Lowell Jenkins leans back in a rocking chair in his condominium, sixteen floors above the crossroads din of Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto. He is wearing a pink sweater against the threat of April rain, and tapping a pencil on the knee of his new jeans. A mug of black tea sits on the kitchen counter next to a tall glass of daffodils. But the golden years calm is illusory: Lowell is unsettled as he studies his decorated refrigerator. Below valentines from his grandchildren (“I Heart U Grandpa Longhair”) hangs a colour-coded image of the brain. “Something was bugging me,” he says. “I wanted to match some information with what was going on.”

    Each lobe is described so briefly—the hippocampus is the area where Alzheimer’s disease starts—that for Lowell the image is less instructive than it is a blunt reminder, a signpost he passes repeatedly whenever he is in a roaming mood. Now seventy-eight, he is approaching five years since his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

    “I’m an example of the more prono...

The complete text of “Fade to Light” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on thewalrus.ca.

Originally published in The Walrus, November 2012

Great reading. Anywhere, any time

Subscribe to Byliner to finish this and thousands of other riveting stories for just $5.99 a month. Get started now with a 14 day FREE trial.

Join Today

Already a member? Sign in