Alzheimer's Daughter

The Story

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.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mothers' Day Thoughts

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to participate in an authors' expo at my local library. The weather was beautiful, so beautiful that people spent the day mowing lawns and planting gardens instead of coming to the library. Attendance at the expo was low, but that facilitated more in-depth conversation with readers. 

I met an 87-year-old WWII veteran who reminded me of my dad, in part because he wore a plaid, wool, snap-brim hat which looked like it could have come from Dad's closet. (After a google search, I now know these hats are called 'newsboys' or 'cabbie caps.')  He married his first wife after a wartime romance. He still kept their love letters. He was an accomplished businessman and taught Science at the High School level for over 30 years. He has written and published eight books——one of which I am reading now—— about losing two wives to Alzheimer's. I felt humbled when he thought Alzheimer's Daughter sounded interesting enough to purchase and read. 

Later in the day, a lady leaned over to sniff my orange-blush roses. She was surprised that these roses were not lush and fragrant, but silk. This bouquet graces my book table at every event I attend, not just because they are pretty, but there is a story behind them.  After my sister and I moved our parents out of their home and into assisted living, I brought Mom and Dad  back to my house for Easter dinner. Mom gave me these roses to decorate my table. At the end of the dinner, I wanted her to take the flowers to add a bright spot to their apartment, but she insisted I keep them. Now these roses remind me of Mom's generous nature. When everything else in her life was crumbling, even her own mind and memories, she wanted to bring me something beautiful. 

On the day before Mothers' Day, it seemed appropriate to be at a book expo sharing memories of both Mom and Dad through Alzheimer's Daughter. As readers stopped at my table, I asked if Alzheimer's had touched their lives. I concluded these conversations by saying that we tend to see the demented in nursing homes as wheelchair-bound or glassy-eyed. We forget these people lived rich lives before they started down the dark tunnel of losing their minds. I hope Alzheimer's Daughter honors the lives my parents lived and reveals the people they were——the deep love they shared with each other and my sister and me——in contrast to the reality of the agonizing decline from the disease.

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