The title of the book “When Life Hands You Alzheimer’s, Make Aprons!” is an intriguing title. How did you come up with the title?
It comes from one of the chapters in my book. While my sister, Katie, and I cared for our mother, we realized she could still crochet and do some sewing tasks. These were some of the hobbies she had throughout her life. I discovered Mom was calmed by working with fabric. Working together, during the last winter of her life, we made 40 aprons and 20 baby bibs.
How will this book benefit “Walk to Remember”?
All profits from the book will be donated to local and national Alzheimer’s organizations. After living with Alzheimer’s and realizing the support you need in order to cope with the disease, I wanted to find a way to help others who need the support of Alzheimer’s associations. My goal is to introduce the book across the country, so the support is nation wide.
How can your book help other families who are affected by Alzheimer’s?
My book is not a “How To” book; but the methods my sister and I enlisted to help our mother can be adjusted for anyone afflicted with the disease. In an interesting story format, the book provides many ideas and tools that can be used by caregivers as they help those with Alzheimer’s. It also provides insight on how humor assisted us as we watched our mother’s personality and character change.
Is this book only for those who are dealing with Alzheimer’s?
Those who have reviewed my book have assured me this is not a book intended specifically for those affected by Alzheimer’s. It is filled with humor just as surely as it is serenely poignant. It’s of general interest to all readers. I am hoping my former book club, in Salt Lake City, will choose to read my story. Of course, anyone who is dealing with Alzheimer’s or has had experience with care giving will certainly have a strong connection to the story.
Your parents died within two weeks of each other in April of this year. How did you manage to get a book written in such a short period?
While caring for both of my parents who were dying, I discovered that, as usual, writing about my experience was cathartic. Describing my experiences rounded the harsh corners in life. It gave me a sound perspective. The journal became the groundwork for a book I never intended to write. It was my sister, Katie, who convinced me we had a story to tell and that we should share it with others. But is the work my sister put into this project that kept us within our self imposed dead lines. It was quite an accomplishment; we’ve decided our next book won’t have such a tight dead line.
So, you are going to publish another book?
I have wanted to write since I was 10 years old. I have a lifetime of material to work with. My sister and I have discussed publishing a book about kidney disease and kidney dialysis. Our father was on kidney dialysis and the story about his disease and how it was managed is as compelling as our mother’s story.
I understand you wrote the book as you traveled. Where did most of the writing take place?
My husband and I live on the road; this summer we traveled through Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico and often camped in remote places so I could concentrate on the book. I often wrote using solar power and used my Verizon Broadband connection to send chapters to my sister and my copy editor. There were times we camped in a deep canyon and had to drive to the top of a mountain to get cell coverage in order to send chapters.
Did you ever suffer from writer’s block or worry about getting the book completed?
I didn’t have any episodes of writer’s block, but I did fret over how I was going to write “Alzheimer’s Last Gift”. In my opinion, it is the strongest chapter in the book. I also worried about how to hire a copy editor. While visiting my stepson in Telluride, Colorado, I stumbled upon a writer’s workshop held at the Telluride Library. It was put on by Craig Childs; he’s an author I had worked with seven years earlier. During that workshop, under the pressure of one of the writing assignments, I found the creative energy I needed to write that chapter. Another member of the workshop, Nicola Fucigna, had copy-editing experience so on a whim I asked if she would be interested in the job. In that one workshop, I managed to complete the hardest chapter and find a copy editor.
Is the finished product the same product you had in mind when you started?
What my sister and I ended up with is much more than what we envisioned in the beginning. My sister asked for a few chapters we could pass out on stapled 8 1/2 X 11 paper. Once I started writing, the memories kept flowing. It was very cathartic. The pictures, recipes, and bib pattern were all ideas that came to us as the work progressed.
Did you ever have second thoughts about your project or worry about its success?
I knew I could write the story but I also knew I didn’t have the energy to get it ready for the printers. My sister was the one who had to work at getting it into the correct file format for the printers. She’s also the one with the business savvy. It was definitely a two-person project, and very challenging given that we were at opposite ends of the country.
What methods will you use to distribute the book?
We will be distributing the book at the Alzheimer’s “Walk to Remember” in Sandusky, Michigan on September 11. I will also use my website, facebook, and email to get word out. We live on the road, which gives me a great opportunity to meet new people and garner support for my project which is to assist organizations that provide respite care to families who care for their loved one.