When asked what the biggest misery in the world was, a philosopher said “memory loss.” The answer came from the philosopher’s own experience having a mother who suffered Alzheimer’s disease. In an effort to spend as much time as possible with her while she was alive, he wrote, edited, read and meditated by her side. However, she did not recognize her son.
One day, she said “yes” when he asked his mother if she was sick. He asked more about symptoms as she seemed to have understood his question, to which she answered “I my mom is sick.” Not only was this sentence grammatically wrong, but it was also words that a son would say to his mother. It felt as if his mother was speaking for him, which was not the case, of course. She was probably thinking of her own mother when she said it. Either way, her words made his heart ache.
To her, his son was a complete stranger. She was not listening to him nor looking at him even though she was. It was sad. The philosopher started writing down the sadness he felt as he was watching her final years. He wanted to remember his mother who lost her memory, which can be found in his moving autobiography entitled “Circumcising Confession.”
His mother spent her last three years like this, unable to recognize her son, before passing away at the age of 90. Her son was Algerian-born French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who lived the life of an immigrant. He lost his mother to Alzheimer’s disease. The three years felt like a prolonged process of death for him. Losing his mother over such a long period of time, he realized losing memories is the biggest misery. Who would not think that if the same thing happened to someone so dear to their hearts.