Last night I attended a picnic in my hometown and had the opportunity to visit with one of my dad's buddies. I was surprised when he told me he'd just finished Alzheimer's Daughter.
I braced myself, preparing to be scolded for writing about the disease which took both of my parents'. Instead, he gave me a thumbs up and said, "You did a good job, Jean."
I felt my unease replaced by a softness as I whispered, "Thank you for your kind words."
He continued, "No one really understands what a caregiver goes through."
During the four years I wrote, I envisioned my readers to be women like me, caregivers, caretakers, family members struggling to make good decisions for their loved ones.
Last week I received a note from a young woman in her thirties. Her grandfather recently died of Alzheimer's. She said Alzheimer's Daughter helped her understand what her mother had been going through as a caregiver——the things her mother never spoke of. She also realized what she herself might go through if a caregiving role was thrust upon her at some future point.
We never know who will read what we write and I never envisioned Alzheimer's Daughter having meaning for those older and younger than myself.
I've become convinced that caregiving is not something we prepare for or talk about enough. Countless daughters, sons, spouses, and partners of Alzheimer's try to give our best to the people who have given us everything, yet we remain shrouded in silence, not connecting with others who share our experience and could offer us support. This daughter is thankful and humbled by your feedback.