Is There Any Ice Cream?
“I believe it was overcoming the fears that gave me the strength and wisdom to recognize I would be ‘strong enough’ to be a caregiver. I was not trained, but I evolved.”
My Love and I sat in his hospital room, celebrating our twenty-fourth anniversary, playing Go-Fish. Each other’s third partner, we had begun growing old gracefully together. And then our lives were turned topsy-turvy when My Love was diagnosed with COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and anxiety attacks, colon cancer and, most recently, elevated calcium, all within four years.
I never asked, What if My Love becomes ill and I, alone, have to become the one to take care of him as his solo caregiver...not in my seventies- not when we were beginning to enjoy retirement!
But that is exactly what happened.
A tenderly written memoir, Is There Any Ice Cream? is a collection of stories of an overwhelmed caregiver who shares the demands and chaos, the joys and despair of the caregiving world. Those who want to learn of a caregiver’s life will accompany My Love and me by way of stories that reveal how heartbreaking, and yet how ultimately beautiful, one caregiving life can be.
Since publication of Is There Any Ice Cream? many people who had no idea what a life of caregiving might be like have offered comments of astonishment that our story could be told with both heartwarming insight and gentle humor. Their disbelief convinced me these stories were an eye-opener for some and that the caregiving life had to be unveiled. I realized those who wanted to learn needed references that reflected the devastating effects of memory loss, but from an emotional, experiencial approach.
One friend asked if I had written a love story. I did not think so at the outset, but as I re-read my journey chapters, they suggested an answer. I found a story of love: a love for My Love, for those who surrounded us, and a love for humanity. It is hard to think of this story without being filled with the love shared with My Love and me by so many people.
Known for changing attitudes, reducing sadness and bringing smiles to faces of "children of all ages," ice cream is more than a response to a craving. It has been reported to alter moods and shift attention in some with memory loss. Thus, the craving for ice cream became an important part of the story of My Love, not just a title reference.
Now, almost eight years in, I have learned two things:
(1) caregiving brings out the heart and soul of one’s life;
(2) caregivers do not have to be alone and without support.
By experiencing intimate moments, by becoming aware and witnessing our unique life together, readers will begin to appreciate the need for encouragement. I hope it will be through understanding a caregiver’s life, by recognizing the special needs and familiar emotions, that stigmas associated with dementia will be erased and future advocates will feel comfortable in offering support to someone they know.
Judith Allen Shone unexpectedly became a caregiver, a
commitment she fulfills to this day. Her story reveals reflective moments as she, alone, cared for her loved one with Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. Using creative ingenuity, as well as an initiative born out of a need to share experiences with others, she was compelled to unveil the role of caregiver for those who wanted to learn.
Shone graduated with a BA in Art from Colorado State University in 1965. Before being a caregiver, this former website designer, writer and art teacher spent over forty-two years in sales, advertising and marketing for exhibit firms and the corporate world in the US and Canada.
She has two grown children, two grandchildren and currently lives with her love and their little dog in Ontario, Canada.
The book website: https://www.CaregiverAlzheimerStory.com
Twitter: Judith Allen Shone @CaregiverStory
Instagram: caregiverstory Judith Allen Shone Author Alz
Facebook: Judith Allen Shone - author
Goodreads: Judith Allen Shone
Blog: Accepting the Gift of Caregiving, https://acceptingthegiftofcaregiving.blogspot.com