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Chapter Three
Breaking News

"There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked."
~ Isaiah 48:22 ~

Charlotte sat on the far side of the sofa, her arms wrapped around a throw pillow. She watched Charlton as he finished his dinner at the table in the kitchen. Ever since a few weeks ago, he had been quiet and withdrawn. Charlotte noted that her father see-sawed between two distinct moods with alarming regularity. Sometimes she could glimpse fear in his eyes, as if he were being pursued by a relentless phantom that dogged his every step. Then there was the unsettling calmness, as if resigning himself to some inevitable fate. Several times, Charlotte had asked her father what was wrong. Charlton would only shake his head and say, "nothing." In vain, Charlotte had suggested they go camping, anything to chase away the storm that pervaded every waking moment.

The next day, Charlton went to Dr. Estrada's office. The last of the test results were in. The look on the doctor's face said it all. Charlton exhaled, his whole body relaxing.

"You're taking the news very well, Chuck," remarked Dr. Estrada encouragingly. "I'm proud of you. I know it must take a lot of courage."

"A hero dies once, a coward dies a thousand times," Charlton chuckled. "I'm only walking around because Someone has forgot to bury me!" The doctor placed a worn hand on Charlton's shoulder.

"It's important to be with family and friends at a time like this," he said, patting Charlton lightly. "Any medication I can prescribe will not be as effective as a loving and trusting relationship with the people who will be taking care of you, your caregivers."

"I haven't seen my family in fifteen years," said Charlton.

"I'm sorry to hear it," responded Dr. Estrada. "You need to reestablish any broken ties before the deterioration progresses to the point where that it is no longer possible."

"I was always terrified that I would develop this disorder, and now my worst fears are realized. Did you know," asked Charlton, "that one of the reasons I got married was so that someone would be there to take care of me if I ever got Alzheimer's? Sad, isn't it?" smiled Charlton grimly. "Looks like the joke's on me! When Martha died, I felt the safety net being jerked out from under my feet. Logically, being the coward that I am, I ran. I ran away from the only people that can help me now." Charlton sat like a limp doll, the sarcasm disappearing from his face. "What am I going to do?" he asked, helplessly.

"Hug your daughter," suggested the doctor. "Here is the phone number of a support group for people who are experiencing the same problems that you are facing. They can help you learn to cope with Alzheimer's."

"I haven't figured out a lot of things yet, but I know one thing: Charlie is not going to see me turn into a blithering idiot," said Charlton, taking the phone number.

"Charlie? Oh, yes. That's your nickname for Charlotte. You and your daughter are very close. It would hurt her a great deal if you pushed her away. I'm sure she would want to know the truth," advised Dr. Estrada. "It would be in her best interest to know what is going on, Chuck."

"I'm her father. I'll decide what's in her best interest," responded Charlton, bluntly. He left the doctor's office and went for a walk to think things over.

It was about one in the afternoon when he returned to the apartment. Charlton hunted through his dresser drawer for a few minutes, and pulled out an address book. He went into the living room and sat on the end of the sofa next to the telephone. After looking up Mrs. Angela Goodman's number, he picked up the receiver. Charlton momentarily froze. He hadn't spoken to his sister-in-law since Charlotte was a baby. This was not going to be easy. Charlton dialed the phone number and held his breath.

"Hello?" answered a boy's voice. Charlton thought for a minute. The last he had heard, Angela only had a daughter.

continued on next page...
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