A true story of one Midwestern family’s discovery, The Thousand Mile Stare combines factual medical research, intriguing family genealogy, and the emotional challenges of the Reiswigs as they experience the devastating effects of Early Onset Alzheimer’s and act out their desires to understand the science behind the illness.
"In a style best called Midwestern conversational, Reiswig’s memoir reckons his family history, one riddled with loony aunts and absent-minded grandfathers.
Once upon a time, his Depression-era relatives had no reason for or explanation of why so many of their kin seemed to become progressively more addled during the years beyond their fortieth birthdays.
Hardscrabble Dust Bowl farmers didn’t need explanations. But as Reiswig’s parents’ generation aged, an aunt began to read about something called Alzheimer’s disease. And even though Aunt Ester May felt this could explain her husband’s memory loss and perhaps help him, the rest of the family preferred to deny any familial pattern. She persisted. Supported by Reiswig and a few of his siblings, she and the rest of the family eventually learned about and participated in studies exploring the existence of an early-onset Alzheimer’s gene. As they did, they all wrestled with the thorny issues of whether to test for the gene or not, and whether or not to have children." --Donna Chavez