Francesco had been experiencing speech problems for some time. The painful and often vain search for the correct word that had characterized the first years of his illness and that had caused such frustration, because the word chosen seldom corresponded to his thoughts, tended now to disappear. Even the words were confused and the sounds he emitted resembled only vaguely the words sought. Initially, when he used the wrong word, I laughed with him as though the mistakes were part of a joke, and together we would try to find the correct one. Later, he seemed to have resigned himself to being unable to say what he thought. He no longer understood very well what I was saying, although I endeavoured to use easy phrases, avoiding complicated reasoning, expressing very simple concepts like 'Let's go to the table', 'Let's go to the bathroom' or, at night, 'Let's go to bed', a suggestion that always triggered off some protest. In fact he was no longer in a position to recall the experiences of the past. Now I had become his memory.
Despite these increasing limitations, we lived in peace. Our ship was steady. Francesco's aggressiveness and violence had vanished and we were able to progressively diminish and later completely abolish the neuroleptics. Francesco only took one sleeping pill at night to sleep – and thus allow us to sleep also. I knew that Alzheimer's is a disease with a slow evolution, that the patient can live for many years provided