“Do you know why I call you the Captain, Captain?” I ask him.
He scrunches his nose and scratches his eyebrow. “Well, I think you told me, but I’ve already forgotten,” he sighs.
“It comes from an old joke. Would you like to hear it?”
“Why the hell not?”
“It was a dark and stormy night,” I start off, calm and slow. ”And the captain said to the first mate, ‘Step up and tell us a story.’ And that story goes like this…” I pause briefly, then continue in a louder, more dramatic voice: “It was a dark and stormy night! And the captain said to the first mate, ‘Step up and tell us a story!’ And that story goes like this…” I pause and then even louder and more dramatically, repeat, “IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT!”
He chuckles and then hoots like an owl.
“Sometimes Alzheimer’s can feel like a dark and stormy night, Captain.”
“That’s right,” he says in a high-pitched tone. “Can it be cured?”
“No Captain, there is no cure.”
“Well, what am I supposed to do about it? Just hire someone like you to take care of me?”
“Yes,” I confirm.
“Well, what will you do?” his voice creaks.
“ I’ll do the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the medication, and the driving.”
“I take you out to lunch, on drives through the redwoods, and I tell you jokes and stories.”
“Stories?” He sounds interested. “Any good ones?”
“Sure, I’ve got one…”
“Well, then, let’s hear it, man!” he says with conviction.
“It was a dark and stormy night,” I say, then pause to see if he remembers yet.
“And?” he leans forward.
“And the captain said to the first mate, ‘Step up and tell us a story…’”