Last night, I introduced an act halfway through the show and just when I started to give his credits, I forgot the name of the show he was on. I’ve introduced this guy a million times with the same credit and this was the first time I blanked on the name. I froze. After a few seconds of awkward silence I had to ask the guy the name of the show, which he told me from offstage.

After his set, I went back up and told the audience that I had some zimers. I didn’t have Alzheimer’s, just some, which prevented me from remembering the name of the show. I wrote that joke a few weeks ago, but it came to life on this night. The response from the audience was mixed. I could tell some people were not comfortable with the “making fun of the handicapped” aspect of the joke.

Some people didn’t quite get it at first, then laughed, and others made groaning noises. I’ll take it. A woman very close to me my whole life died recently after suffering from the disease in her later years. She had been a second mother to me since I was 3. She always enjoyed my Detroit visits after I moved away in 1979. She’d greet me with a warm bear hug that went on and on, until we couldn’t squeeze each other any harder.

The last time I saw her, she didn’t know me. Not at all, didn’t know me from a can of paint. She embraced me but only because her daughter told her hugging me was something she used to do. Our last hug bore no resemblance to what we used to share. The feeling was so odd. She didn’t know her only daughter either, but trusted her as a caregiver. I will continue to do my Alzheimer’s joke, it’s one I’ll never forget.

William Stephenson

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