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November 19, 1982

The Long Slow Arc Between Things

JAMA. 1982;248(19):2503-2504. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330190065037

  1. 1 The way a mind can be eaten and starved. My father, uncharacteristically believing the lies of his doctors, unable to read their faces or spell "world" backward, his task for today. Unable to add or subtract in his head. Someone in the corridor telling me we are all dying.

  2. 2 Standing in the doorway, I coach him in his lessons. One or two right answers and the doctors will relent. Such simple questions. I mouth it over and over, "d-l-r-o-w," 12 from 34 equals 22, 12 plus 34 is 46. Forty-six. I say it for myself. In the hallway I am ashamed. My face is hot with it. Becoming a parent now, the voice in the next room is mine, apologizing to his new teachers, keeping bad news from a sleeping child. What waits in our blood bringing on these failures. If actuary's charts are accurate then we're disappointing