By Suzka Collins
Ah… the wonders I found living with my mother in Dementialand. It all started almost minutes after she was diagnosed with progressive dementia. The cause was meningitis encephalitis. There seemed to be no choice at the time. I had to leave my bohemian life in the art world in California to return to a Chicago suburb where my mom was living. I am a painter. This had all the markings of a disaster.
After four years living in Dementialand, I returned to California and remember my friends telling me how sorry they were, how horrible it must have been and what a great sacrifice I made taking care of her. I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about. For me, I was on a crazy cruise of chaos and enchantment. I had to write a book. Dementia was getting a bad rap.
Wonders in Dementialand is a quirky, meta-fictional memoir. The book is composed of 350 pages with oddly connected sections that range from flashback memories of something that might have actually happened, to pure fantasy.
The architecture of the book is noticeably whimsical. Parts are pure imaginary. I metaphorically humanized ‘dementia’ mirroring a male character named Skeeter - an uncommon approach. Violet (my mother and main character) meets Skeeter in a port-of-crossing terminal. As Violet attempts to cross the border, she trips and falls in the arms of this handsome suitor. The suitor takes her away to exotic and alluring places that Violet keeps secret. Like a schoolgirl, Violet is smitten and scared. But Skeeter (similar to dementia) is persistent in pursuing Violet. Other parts have dreamlike processions and hallucinatory imagery depicting the facade of life with a fragmented potpourri of characters. Large balloons with cartoon faces of the Cookie monster, Dora, Betty Boop and Miss Kitty parade themselves about everywhere making all the craziness palpable and even mysterious at times. It’s funny and sad and touching at the same time. Yet through this book there shines the light of an authentic truism. Nothing is trivialized. The delusions, the paranoia and the discombobulated conversations are still there.
Wonders in Dementialand breaks through the stigma of dementia, which is now being called the defining medical concern of this generation. Today more than 47.5 million are living with dementia worldwide. Multiply that number by the family members and caregivers affected by dementia directly, day in and day out, and you have a universe of people living in dementialand. It’s a subject that matters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars
What wonders you’ll find… By H
I love this book because of its attitude - vibrant, free-spirited, and positive.
A book like this is precious. Reading it gives me the energy I need to tackle the world and notice the colors of what otherwise might be a debilitating tragedy. Dementia can destroy the lives of everyone involved, but in this book, Suzka gives the gift of a new perspective-- accepting, open, and daring enough to have fun.
5.0 out of 5 stars
I loved reading this book By Christi
Suzka explored dementia as only an artist could. As I read her book, I felt that I could actually see what she was seeing and feel the withdrawal from the everyday understanding of the "real" world that was being replaced with an other-worldly view that leaves all the baggage and preconceived notions behind. It is a unique view of dementia from a caring, loving daughter who accompanied her mother as she made this journey. I loved reading this book.