My love for Terry Pratchett books came quite late in life. I read the carpet people as a child and just didn’t get it (I also didn’t get His dark materials… clearly fantasy just wasn’t my bag), but when I was tasked to read Going Postal for my book group I was just in awe. Incredible. It even made my top ten books ever. Yep, that good (read my review here). I went on to read Mort, which I also really enjoyed, which features Mort as Death’s apprentice.
At the time I was finally reading his novels, Pratchett had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I didn’t appreciate just how devastating this was. Clearly, for a man who was so renowned for his beauty through words, this was the worst possible diagnosis. In 2014 I finally understood, when my Grandma got diagnosed.
I don’t really like talking about it, but I’m going to give it a go. In 2016 she moved to a care home; physically diminishing rapidly, but it was the mental changes that threw me the most. Grandma had always been a strong female character in my life. She didn’t suffer fools lightly and she didn’t take any shit from anyone. Her house was her pride and joy and was always spotless. She was passionate about her past, regaling me with stories of her extensive family history. I shared my love of great food with her. She was one of the finest bakers I’ve ever met (her and my mum). Alzheimers destroyed all this. It took away her confidence, her speech, her passion. I hate it. I HATE it.
I was encouraged to watch Terry Pratchett’s final story- Back in Black– earlier this week. I knew it would be tough, but I felt it was important. Paul Kaye played the part of the late Terry Pratchett (superbly in my opinion). I’ve never heard the disease summed up as perfectly as through his own words:
‘On the first day of my journalistic career I saw my first corpse – some unfortunate chap had fallen down a hole on a farm and had drowned in pig shit… All I can say is that, compared with that horrific demise, Alzheimer’s is a walk in the park. Except with Alzheimer’s my park keeps changing. The trees get up and walk over there, the benches go missing and the paths seem to be unwinding into particularly vindictive serpents.’ -Terry Pratchett
The most heartbreaking part was Neil Gaiman talking about the loss of his friend. It was like being punched. However, I absolutely loved this show. I am finally going to get hold of a copy of Night watch (my dad will be thrilled). Sleep well Terry.
‘No one is truly dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.’ – Terry Pratchett