At the Bay Path College Writers’ Day, I attended a talk on memoir writing given by author Kate Whouley. It was an excellent talk, and very helpful to me in writing my memoir BEYOND WORDS, The Bond Between People and Dogs (working title). She used her book Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved when describing to the group of writers in the audience how she went about writing memoir. I was intrigued by Cottage for Sale and couldn’t wait to buy a copy of the book when the talk had ended. Although Kate concentrated on that book during her talk, she mentioned occasionally her second book, Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words, also a memoir, written about her mother and how she, the only child, dealt with her mother’s dementia. When Kate’s talk ended, I purchased both books.
While on my recent vacation to Maine, I read Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words. I couldn’t put it down. Rather than enjoying the lake and woods, I found myself glued to the book. I love that feeling! I mention this book here on my blog because many of us visiting nursing homes and assisted living facilities with our therapy dogs visit folks afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. My therapy dog James and I have worked extensively with dementia patients and James has had great success in awakening memories that seemed locked away forever. These patients have made eye contact with James, smiled, and spoken, when nothing but a blank stare is seen by family members, friends, and nursing home staff. Family members often took the cue and started bringing in the patient’s beloved dog from home. One woman, the daughter of a patient James was spending time with, said to me, Although I receive no recognition from my mother, it makes me feel better seeing her smile and laugh while holding her beloved little dog in her arms.
In addition, I loved this book and write about it here, because many of my readers, I am sure, like Kate, have been the caregiver for a family member caught in the downward spiral of decline. I was the caregiver for my father for a period of ten years, after my mother’s death. Like Kate, our father-daughter relationship had been a lumpy, bumpy one. As a person starts to loose all ability to reason, their surliness becomes acute. He loved having me bring one of the dogs in to visit him in the nursing home. In an agitated state, he would lash out at me with a caustic remark, then turn to the dog and pet her head and ears, hug her and calm right down.
I highly recommend Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words. You will find it helpful, uplifting, and heartwarming. I’d love to see it made into a movie… then, again, I’d hate to see it spoiled. It should be on the New York Times Bestsellers List. It’s on mine! (Although not at all related to the subject matter of my blog, I loved reading Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved, by Kate Whouley. It’s light-hearted, humorous, and adventurous. You will be taken in on the first page!)