Topic: "Dad" (5)
Frodo's father was one of five siblings. They are all gone now, and Frodo has a million questions unanswered. He will never make that mistake again. Three of the five suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), including Frodo's father, and that anomaly will be summarized in the words that follow. Apologies are offered to those who this evening expected humor, or will read something about which they were already aware.
The youngest brother was struck first, and strangely enough, the symptoms commenced in his throat. Generally, the disease first appears in the limbs and works its way in, eventually strangling the victim. About half-way through the total dimunition of his ability to communicate, his brother, Frodo's father, was struck in exactly the same fashion.
There is no way to adequately express what it was like to watch the two of them, eating ice cream, and watching their beloved Atlanta Braves on TV. When one tried to speak, it was usually to ask "What's wrong with Murphy (Dale, they both loved the guy)?" For the most part, they sat in silence, knowing that it was growing impossible for anyone to understand what they were trying to say.
When his brother died, Frodo's father was too weak to travel to the funeral, so Frodo did not have to be asked. Frodo was there. In a few short days all learned that the youngest sister had now been diagnosed with ALS, but it was of a more traditional nature and commenced in the limbs. Soon, both his aunt and his father were no more.
Neither the oldest brother nor the oldest sister ever developed any signs of ALS. The brother probably drank himself to death, and the sister lived well into her 90's, with Alzheimer's for the last decade or so. Every living member of the family submitted a blood sample to a study being conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and brain tissue of the victimized was included. The published result found that 18 families of European descent had a "genetic predisposition" to ALS, and that probably accounted for about 10% of all such cases.
It goes without saying that research utilizing embryonic stem cells is a potentially crucial tool to uncovering the genetic secrets and the exceptions that plague those like Frodo's forebears. Frodo is personally grateful to those who realize that it is within the power of Man and Hobbit to ease suffering. The fact that any would deny such an effort is something for which Frodo has neither patience nor understanding. He concludes this evening with gratitude to the President, and a reminder to all that it was Mohandas K. Gandhi, who said that changing the world should yield life as one chooses to live it.
Frodo and his father did not agree on many things, and it is likely that the election of Barack Obama would have been another disputed moment; until tonight, that is.