A Lucky Man, Klaus’s Story, Part III

Written by Teri on April 16, 2010

Klaus Citterman

On Monday, April 5, we started running Klaus Citterman’s story, which begins with his escape at age 17 from Nazi Germany; continues as he and his parents flee to Shanghai, China; and concludes in Portland, Oregon, where he marries, builds a new life, and raises four children.

The story was written by Klaus’s daughter, Teri Citterman Bahm, a public-relations consultant, freelance writer, and award-winning wine writer.

Teri, who chronicled the last six years of her father’s life, was kind enough to share portions of her memoir with Five More Minutes With.

Klaus’s Story, Part III

In 2005, three years into the interview process, Dad was diagnosed with Lewy-Body Dementia.

L-BD is a strange disease. I’m told it’s one of those “less-than-two-percent-of-the-population” types. It is not a dementia that wipes away memory completely. It is cruel in that it leaves a person cognitive enough to know that things are dreadfully off.

That’s what scared my Dad. He knew there was something wrong and that he couldn’t gather his thoughts to make sense of things or communicate in the way that he wanted to. He knew that something bad was happening.

Yet strangely, as cruel and unforgiving as Dad’s dementia was, there was also a brightness to it. While it stripped away important aspects of his former personality, it also created new ones.

At least that’s how I chose to see it.

In my father’s case, as dementia seized his brain, it brought with it hallucinations and paranoia. I stopped interviewing him, but I did not stop observing. His personality changed in many funny and touching ways and introduced a new character to my book.

Before he died, my Dad had a gentle vulnerability about him. It’s something I’d never seen before, and I got to know this new phase of who he was becoming. He was calm and quiet and more talkative.

When he incorporated words that I’d never heard him use, I found it fascinating. He wanted to be heard, wanted to be understood–whether he was making sense or not.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all really want?

Part IV: Life at Encore Village

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Dad