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Lighting a candle against the fog of Alzheimer's

It's hard to believe, but not everything is about television. Here's a story I wrote for the Miami Herald's Wishbook project, which tries to match donors to people who need help.

Magdalenabravo The night before Magdalena Bravo had brain surgery, she prayed long and hard -- not for success but, in case of failure, for death. ``Because,'' she says softly, ``I knew the girls could never take care of both of us.''

In the autumn of their lives, nature has dished out a cruel double whammy to Magdalena and her husband, Edgar. Their own brains have been turned against them. Hers was harboring a tumor that her doctors estimated, with grim good humor, as about the size of New Jersey.

And Edgar's is retreating into the fog of Alzheimer's disease, a harsh parody of human development in which every day he knows a little less than before. The English he spoke perfectly for 50 years has gone. So has the ability to shave, tie his shoes or bathe himself.

``It's like having a 7-year-old,'' Magdalena says. ``Except that he's 71, and he's my husband.'' Read the rest of the story in Thursday's Miami Herald.

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