I opted to release the chapters of my latest novella – Life Among the Stones– as sequential blog posts to help draw attention to the rapidly evolving world of Alzheimer’s disease. As people live longer, the occurrence of Alzheimer’s and dementia have mushroomed, causing many observers to note that we might be on the verge of an epidemic.
Life Among the Stones is a fictional account of a remarkable woman – 81-year-old Alberta Alexander. The novella opens with her seeing her dead husband’s face in an elevator as the doors close. Thus, begins her complicated and revealing journey into Alzheimer’s. With her two adult children fully signed on as caregivers and a long-lasting friend as her physician, Alberta moves into the process determined to retain her inner core of dignity, resolve and love.
Along the way, she discovers she is but one of millions who are watching their memories disappear and their lives along with them. To the amazement of those around her, hidden treasures of personality and revealed. And Alberta has one precious secret hidden in her garden – a secret telling of a remarkable life.
Life Among the Stones is now available in paperback for $5.50 here and as a free digital download here. A special thanks to all those who have written and told of what they learned through Alberta’s journey. Here’s an excerpt:
Now her mother turned fully to face her. “I know what you’re doing, you know? But I want to journey back there – to Edinburgh, my relatives, the beach, the marvellous castle. I was happy there. It was a childhood interrupted, to be sure, but we hardly heard of the war or the killing. We pretended to build castles in the sand, even on the cold days. We went to the Firth of Forth and watched the great train bridge and waited for the steam engines to trundle over it. I missed my parents, but they were always writing me. I would be the first to meet the postman.”
It was quiet for a moment. Jennifer felt remorse for her actions but, at the same time, wanted her mother to stay in the moment.
“I’m sorry, mother. You remember what Elizabeth said, don’t you?”
“I remember very well, and my friend was wrong.”
The words were out, and both women were startled by their candour. For the briefest of moments, Jenny thought her mother angry. Seeking to deflect it, Jenny said, “The research has said that we won’t be able to alter the outcome of the disease, but we could build supports around you that could change the journey.”
Silence was followed by more silence.
“It is my journey, honey, not science’s. I don’t wish to change it. I want only to be respectful in my decline and to not purposefully hurt anyone, especially you or Robin. But there is magic and wonder just outside of our reality. I can feel it and my mind, with all its troubles, embraces it. There is imagination, enchantment, spellbinding things in my youth that might not even have been real, but they were real to me at the time. And they were peaceful, safe, loving, and rapturous. I shan’t be hurt by going there, especially when the reality here is defined by decline and my end.”