Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you and describe that influence.

“Go fish.” The vibrant smell of freshly crushed Roma tomatoes and oregano splashes across the dusty kitchen, letting me know that it’s time to stir the red sauce for tonight’s lasagna.

Silence. My opponent stares defiantly. How dare I insult her with such a base command? She knows what she’s supposed to do.

“Go ahead and draw,” I clarify. “I’m just getting up to stir the sauce.”

“Are we going to have spaghetti?”

“We’re going to eat lasagna in a couple hours.” I draw the wooden spoon through the sauce several times and return to the table. She hasn’t drawn a card. I give up. “Do you have a queen?” We used to play rummy and poker, but as my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease has entered its advanced stages, those games have become hopelessly complex. At any rate, it’s easier to throw occasional games of Go Fish in her favor.

When Nana was first diagnosed, I decided that I would become a medical researcher and cure Alzheimer’s, that I would save her personally. I quickly discovered, however, that (a) the ten years I would need to finish med school meant that I would be too late to help her, and (b) I had little genuine interest in neuroscience. If I couldn’t help her keep her memories, though, I could at least keep them elsewhere. I...

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