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[Perspectives] Caring for memories

On the fifth anniversary of my wife Joan’s death from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, after I placed flowers on her gravestone, I immediately felt a rush of chaotic emotional memories—key events in our lives as well as the trivia that had accumulated over almost a half century together, yet said something special to me. Each memory came as an image surrounded by a particular type of feeling. As soon as I focused on one memory, a story spoke: some well rehearsed, others incipient. I saw myself as a curator, stewarding a poorly arranged, shifting, and highly charged picture gallery.