Alzheimer’s Daughter introduces the reader to my healthy parents, Ed and Ibby, years before their diagnosis, then recounts painful details as our roles reversed and I became my parents’ parent.
Their disease started as translucent, confused thoughts and ended in a locked memory care unit after a near decade of descent into the opaque world of Alzheimer's.
I began writing Alzheimer’s Daughter one week after my mother's death––when I was stunned, realizing Dad had no memory of her or their 66-year marriage.
I write to pay tribute to the undying spirit at Ed and Ibby's core, and with the hope that the story of their parallel decline might be helpful to others.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
By Zoe Fishman
Our parents. They raise us; they tolerate us; and if we’re lucky, they love us even when we’re terrible.
And then one day, you wake up and look in the mirror. You are not bright eyed and bushy tailed, you have eye bags and patchy skin. Your two-year-old has been up since five am, watching cartoons at your parents’ house, the house you grew up in, the house that you are visiting now as an almost forty-year-old adult. You pad into the kitchen, pour yourself some coffee and sit. You look at your parents, your mother on the couch next to your son, your father at the kitchen table next to you with his basket of medicine and you realize that if you are oldish, then they are old. And then you realize that you are all just going to keep getting older, God willing, and that the tables will turn and you will take care of them; just as they took care of you. You drink more coffee and worry about what exactly that will entail.
That’s what happened to me, back in 2014. I drank my coffee and thought about how I would essentially be inheriting my parents and then as the caffeine began to wake my brain I thought about how nice a windfall inheritance would be, but then remembered that nothing comes without any strings attached; there is always a catch. And thus, Inheriting Edith was born.
Initially, Edith was not going to have Alzheimer’s. But then I spoke to my mom on that same trip home, sharing my idea, and she asked me what exactly was at stake for Edith? My grandmother, my father’s mom, had had Alzheimer’s, and upon further thought I realized that Edith, not having a choice about the loss of her memories, and Maggie, her reluctant caretaker, willingly repressing hers, created an interesting dynamic. So, thank you to my Mom.
One of my biggest fears in writing this book was that I would unintentionally undermine or misrepresent Alzheimer’s. I asked my father about how hard it must have been for him to witness his mother’s decline, and he told me something she said at one point in the early stages of her disease. She said to him, “Ethan, I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.” The naked vulnerability of such a statement struck me deeply and it, along with much research, became my guide in realizing Edith’s journey.
It has been a source of great joy for me that so many of my readers have commented about the accuracy of my depiction of not only Edith’s Alzheimer’s, but my depiction of her relationship with Maggie. It’s a delicate dance to say the least, and to have it resonate with others in this position, to know that it may have made them feel less alone in their struggles, has been a true gift.
Zoe Fishman is the bestselling author of the upcoming Invisible As Air, which will be available in September 2019, as well as Inheriting Edith, Driving Lessons, Saving Ruth and Balancing Acts. Her books have been translated into several languages and she’s the recipient of myriad awards, including an IndieNext Pick.
Zoe worked in the New York publishing industry for thirteen years. She was recently the Visiting Writer at SCAD Atlanta and currently teaches at Emory Continuing Education and The Decatur Writers Studio, at which she is also the Executive Director. She lives in Decatur with her family.
You can visit her website at www.zoefishman.net, like her on Facebook/ Zoe Fishmanand/or follow her on Twitter at @ZoeFishman76.
Monday, September 23, 2019
North East Ohio Alzheimer's Association included AlzAuthors in Akron and Medina Walks to End Alzheimer's
For the past two weekends, I've been honored to display a sampling of books, all written by people like me, perhaps like you too, who have had personal experiences with Alzheimer's and dementia.
AlzAuthors, a group I helped cofound, was invited to be an exhibitor at the Walks to End Alzheimer's in Akron and Medina.
People were astounded to see this wealth of books, written from personal experience. Now they know they are not alone in their journey.
Read the entire post on AlzAuthors.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
But, in the eight years since my retirement from teaching 3rd graders, I have written not only one book, but now four, all based on family. (The most recent being a children's series written through the voice of my grandchildren's pets). My first book, Alzheimer's Daughter, remains a top seller on Amazon in the category of eldercare.
Also unexpectedly, I have ventured into the world of audiobooks. I never even considered that my books could become anything but written words on paper or a Kindle device.
Spurred by my colleagues at AlzAuthors, I began to explore Amazon Audible. I uploaded a sample of Alzheimer's Daughter through their author platform, ACX. Audio auditions began to arrive. I received 20 auditions in all, from highly capable voice actors.
Karen Merritt's audition stood out, honestly because she told me she'd read my entire book before she auditioned and felt deeply connected to my story.
We spoke by phone so she could understand my parents' personalities and my own, and she began her magical work.
Within a period of about six weeks, we released the Audible version of Alzheimer's Daughter.
But most unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to meet Karen Merritt for lunch recently. She lives near Pittsburg and I near Cleveland. So, we drove halfway to a diner that had the same aroma of frying bacon and burgers as the small-town Farmer's Restaurant where my parents ate many a meal in my book.
Oh, the joy and connection radiating from our meeting; Karen is a part of my story now as she narrates the voices of Ed, Ibby, my sister, and me.
A curious gentleman at a nearby table couldn't help but recognize our deep emotion and he offered to take this picture.
I'm forever thankful for Karen blessing my life with the tenderness and love she poured into this project.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
"What Flies Away tells the story in poetry of my mother’s journey through this disease and the path of grief our family traveled. It begins with a poem called “What she doesn’t know.” As I take her for “a ride,” we are chatting about birds/and insects and other things that fly away, until the hospital rises like a castle before us...Everything in me fought against it, but I had to leave my mother, in hopes that she would receive the help she needed.”
Read the entire post here.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Meet Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel, author of "Unmasking Alzheimer's: The Memories Behind the Masks"
- It is my hope that the photos of my masks, along with the stories that I wrote, will “unmask Alzheimer’s” and bring to light one person’s perspectives of living with AD.
- It is my hope that my book will create an opportunities for those living with the disease, those caring for them, friends, relatives and the medical community to dialogue about how Alzheimer’s feels, how it changes us and challenges all of us.
- I also hope that this book will nudge people who have memory concerns to make an appointment to see their primary health care provider to talk about what is going on and together come up with a plan on what to do next.
- I hope that those who are living with the disease will feel less stigmatized.
- I hope that those of us who are living with the disease will be less feared and more included in the decisions that affect us and our daily lives.
- Cynthia serves as a National Early-Stage Advisor for the Alzheimer’s Association and speaks locally, and nationally about living with Alzheimer’s disease.
- In 2017, she was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the National Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services.
- She has participated in two National Research Summits.
- As a member of the Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition, a national network of clergy, laity, and faith organizations, she has written several chapters for an upcoming book on serving the spiritual and worship needs of persons with dementia.
- Cynthia is passionate about Alzheimer’s research and has been a participant in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuro-Imaging Initiative study since 2010.
- Cynthia loves to sing in the band, “Country Magic” and was inducted into the NY State Country Music Hall of Honor in 2016.
- She enrolled at Elmira College in 2011 and is taking her 37thclass.
- Cynthia enjoys kayaking, swimming and golf and loves to travel.
- Cynthia substitute preaches in and around the Finger Lakes. Most of all, she loves being a grandma to Cate and Henry.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Meet Carmen Buck, photographer and author of "Just See Me - Sacred Stories from the Other Side of Dementia"
"I dove deep into my love of photography capturing memories especially for those impacted by dementia. Images convey feeling and can say so much about living with dementia making photography a wonderful tool to raise awareness. Combining words and photography creates a mighty voice to help people see into the lives impacted by dementia and reduce fear of the unknown so we may all experience more compassion and love. Just See Me-Sacred Stories From the Other Side of Dementia gives a voice to families who were otherwise overwhelmed with life and serves as a big step toward reducing stigma."