Silver Lining: This Old Man with Alzheimer’s Just Forgot How to be Racist

By Patrick Duffy

WORCHESTER, MA — They say that when God closes a door, He opens a window, and while He may have closed the door on local octogenarian Steven Peterson’s ability to remember where he is, the window is wide open to Peterson not being racist, on account of no longer being able to remember which ethnicities he despises.

“At first, we were really surprised that Dad was being so polite to the Japanese attendant in his nursing home,” said daughter Kelsey Peterson. We thought, ‘Wow, did he finally get over Pearl Harbor?’ But it turns out he didn’t just get over it, he totally forgot it even happened.”

Multiple witnesses have reported that the elderly Peterson, who just ten years earlier changed doctors because he found out his was Portuguese, seems to have completely forgotten, in addition to the names of his grandchildren, the concept of bigotry. This development came to light after Peterson requested spaghetti in the nursing home cafeteria, despite previously referring to Italian cuisine as “a greasy food for a greasy people.” 

“Like, it’s kind of annoying that Grampa keeps calling me by the name of his brother who drowned when they were children, but at least he doesn’t ask me when I’m going to ‘stop hanging around with that Cuban girlfriend of yours,’” reported grandson Kevin Peterson. “He’s also stopped making fun of me for having a ‘dirty Mick name.’”

According to leading neurologists, the part of the brain that controls prejudice is usually one of the last parts to deteriorate, after the part that controls fine motor function but before the part that controls sex drive. At this point of the condition’s progression, hospice patients like Peterson continue to try and grope nurses, but have progressed to doing so with nurses of all backgrounds.

Like any dementia patient, Mr. Peterson has good days and bad days. “Sometimes he’ll just babble on about nothing, but other times he’ll have a few moments of mental lucidity and say something derogatory about Eastern Europeans,” reports nursing home employee Kelly Santos. “But then he’s right back to staring blankly at the wall and treating people of all ethnicities with respect.”