Let’s Talk

Hey. Just a warn­ing: This isn’t an easy read. It was­n’t easy to write, either.

Today is Jan­u­ary 25th, when Bell, inspired by a spir­it of bound­less com­pas­sion*, will give a pile of mon­ey to men­tal health ini­tia­tives, so long as you tag your dis­cus­sion cor­rect­ly. So… here’s my 5¢ worth, I guess.

As some of you know, my dad recent­ly died. He was in a nurs­ing home for years before he left us, a vic­tim of pret­ty severe demen­tia. So in a way, he died twice: once in the mind, slow­ly falling away over years, and then in body, lat­er, more quickly.

Even before the demen­tia became appar­ent, there were hints of depres­sion. Maybe things could have been dif­fer­ent if he’d spo­ken up, or if we’d asked the right ques­tions. (Let’s talk, Dad.) Hind­sight is, of course, always 20/20, but Dad just was­n’t the type to talk about these things. (Nei­ther am I, real­ly. Not usually.)

I’m like Dad in a lot of ways. I look like him, I sound like him, and many of his man­ner­isms and turns of phrase are deeply ingrained in me too. We both love sci­ence fic­tion. We both lack a spleen, thanks to a genet­ic con­di­tion whose name I nev­er learned.

But I’m also unlike him in a lot of ways. I do my best to go to the gym, which I think he might find a for­eign con­cept. I don’t like canned peas (grey salty sad­ness pel­lets), I enjoy kiwifruit and yogurt, I read the occa­sion­al fan­ta­sy novel.

Sometimes—not very often, but sometimes—I won­der if his fate is my fate. Peo­ple tell me that it’s not, and I do my best to listen.


* I imag­ine there are tax ben­e­fits, too.