LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
Time now for StoryCorps. This project travels the country, recording conversations between loved ones. And today we hear from Bob Patterson, who's starting to lose his memory. He was an aerospace engineer for more than 30 years. In 2008, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Here Bob talks with his wife, Karen, about living with the disease and without bits of his memory.
Mr. BOB PATTERSON: I feel like I'm the same person, but I know I'm kind of a big load to deal with.
Ms. KAREN PATTERSON: You know how we talk sometimes about who we really are - what is our essence?
Mr. PATTERSON: Uh-huh.
Ms. PATTERSON: Memories are not who you are.
Mr. PATTERSON: Well, I think one thing that I experience with Alzheimer's is, I live in the moment 'cause I can't remember what happened yesterday; I can't remember what happened 10 minutes ago. But I'm much more present, I think.
Ms. PATTERSON: Do you think about the future?
Mr. PATTERSON: I know that there's probably a bad time that comes in the future. This disease gets more wicked, but I don't obsess on it, and I just do a nice job of ignoring it.
Ms. PATTERSON: With this disease, you moved from somebody that lived in your head a lot to somebody that lives in their heart.
Mr. PATTERSON: The head is an overstated organ. The heart is where all the action is. And I can remember things that occur in my heart much better than things that occur in my head: having fun with the kids, laughing, our new grandchild.
Ms. PATTERSON: Speaking of this new grandchild, is there something you'd like him to know?
Mr. PATTERSON: I would like him to know that I fell in love with him the first time I saw him in the hospital. And every time I see that sweet, little face, it just makes me feel good. I'm looking forward to hanging with him and teaching him things that I think are really important. That's my job for the rest of my life.
Ms. PATTERSON: I don't know if you even remember this, but once we were listening to a book on tape, and it talked about the greatest thing you could do if you love somebody was hope that you would be the one that was left, and that you would be the one that could care for your lover. You are not alone, and I'm honored that I'm the one that can care for you. I always will.
Mr. PATTERSON: You always have. Thank you.
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WERTHEIMER: Bob Patterson talking with his wife, Karen, in Los Angeles. That interview was recorded for the StoryCorps Memory Loss Initiative. It will be archived at the Library of Congress. You can get the podcast at NPR.org.
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