- By: Thomas Riddington
“It’s OK gran, we’ll spell it out together. W-O-R-L-D. And it’s a double word score” In 2002, over a game of scrabble, my grandmother showed the first subtle signs of an unstoppable disease that would leave her unable to move, speak, or eat. It transformed her mind, reshaping then wiping her personality and memories. The world’s worst worrier became carefree, losing all inhibitions and flirting with men young enough to be her grandchildren. When speech became a problem, her muscle memory remained—she would knit endless scarves, forgetting what she started hours before. While she could still stand she taught me to waltz, distant memories faultlessly replaying steps from 50 years earlier. It’s rare for Alzheimer’s disease to progress this far. It is a quirk of biology that my grandmother’s lungs have dodged half a century of cigarettes, that she is in good health in every way apart from her brain.