May 1, 1987

Daddy's Little Girl

JAMA. 1987;257(17):2341. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390170097036

"He's not doing too well today," my mother said. "I'm not sure he'll know you. But try to talk to him anyway."

It was five years ago that I spoke to my father on the phone and knew something was wrong. As always, he was very interested in my work. I was telling him about my new research project and he asked, "DTP—is that for whooping cough?" A general practitioner for 40 years, he had probably given thousands of DTP shots to "his babies" (as he used to call them). I talked to my mother. "Has Daddy had a checkup lately? Have you noticed anything wrong? Do you think he is getting a little forgetful?" His son, the psychologist, thought he was depressed. "After all, he's not used to being retired. He misses his patients; he doesn't have enough to do. Maybe an antidepressant would help." But his daughter, the