By Robin Perini
Looking back, it all started one Christmas morning with a seemingly minor event. Unlike every Christmas in the past, that morning my mom couldn’t remember which presents belonged to whom under the tree without looking at the tags. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the beginning of an over fifteen-year journey that still hasn’t ended.
My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
I won’t explain how long the illness took to diagnose, how many years it took to know what was wrong, or how much false hope we were given with phrases like Mild Cognitive Impairment. That information is available on the blog I’m writing with my dad, Moments of Clarity.
I will say that it’s a horrible disease. My mother is only seventy-six years old. She and my dad should be enjoying retirement, traveling, playing with the grandkids. But those dreams and expectations were not to be, and over the last decade my family has learned two very important truths:
As your loved one’s brain is destroyed, whatever its manifestations, it’s the disease, not them.
Be thankful and appreciative of what you still have, not resentful for what you have lost—and continue to lose.
Those two tenets have helped us through this difficult journey. In fact, my mom’s journey—our family’s journey—is what inspired my latest book, FORGOTTEN SECRETS. It's not a book about Alzheimer’s. It's a romantic mystery/thriller novel revolving around a kidnapping. However, the only witness is the victim’s grandmother who has Alzheimer’s disease.
My hope for this story is it will entertain while raising awareness and understanding for families battling this disease. In addition, I am donating 10% of the royalties I receive from Forgotten Secrets to the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization that has been a God-send to me and my family in so many ways. Apart from the education and personal support, they were the ones who helped my family realize—finally—that we are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association’s vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. I pray for that day.
I have never been more nervous for a book to be released. FORGOTTEN SECRETS came out on July 19, 2016 and I didn’t know what to expect. Truth be told, I didn’t really anticipate the response I’ve received. I have been unbelievably moved by the words of my readers. So many have written, thanking me for bringing awareness and for showing a slice of truth about Alzheimer’s. Some have the disease; some are caregivers; some have lost a loved one; some have never known anyone with Alzheimer’s but have thanked me for showing them a small window into the world of this difficult illness. I have been so gratified and encouraged. Sometimes I wonder if this moment in time is why I became a writer in the first place.
While writing FORGOTTEN SECRETS, all I ever wanted was to do my mother justice. I pray I have done so, but once the book was completed, I realized I wanted to do more, something that would impact more people, so I also created the 1Memory Challenge (#1Memory Challenge). The reason: I so wish that I could talk to my mom again, share memories, ask her questions about her life as a child, growing up, as a young woman. I can’t do that, but I can share my memories with loved ones. I can record them so they won’t be lost. And I can encourage others to do the same. Because once those memories fade (whatever the cause), they are gone.
I decided to challenge friends and family to do the following:
1) Record a memory through a video, photo and/or writing a story and post it on social media.
2) Challenge 2-5 others to share a memory and tag them.
3) Give them 24 hours to accomplish the challenge or to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association (or another organization).
The #1MemoryChallenge was a success for me personally because my dad began recording videos for the grandkids, to give them advice and wisdom. For our family, those videos will always be priceless. He will also be recording a few videos for my mom. So they will learn to know the amazing person their grandmother is.
So, to those of you reading this, I may share my heart, my memories, my vision, my soul through my fiction writing…but your memories can do the same. So, I want to challenge each and every one of you to take the #1MemoryChallenge. For yourself and your loved ones. Share your memories. Pass them on. Consider donating to the cause. And hold your loved ones tight.
Hopefully someday, none of us will have to worry about losing or longing for those forgotten secrets.
Links to more information and some memories shared:
About Robin Perini
International and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling and award-winning author Robin Perini is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes adventures with a love story sure to melt their hearts. A RITA Award finalist, she sold fourteen titles to publishers in less than two years after winning the prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award in 2011. An analyst for an advanced technology corporation, she is also a nationally acclaimed writing instructor and enjoys small-bore rifle silhouette shooting. As a result of her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, Robin has become an advocate. She is donating 10% of her royalties received from her novel, FORGOTTEN SECRETS, to the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, she started the 1 Memory Challenge, a challenge to encourage others to share memories and donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, whose vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. You can learn more and connect with her by visiting her website at www.robinperini.com.