I've never minded solitude. For a writer, it's a natural condition. But caring for a dementia sufferer leads to a peculiar kind of loneliness.
Childhood doesn't have to be perfect, and children don't have to be beautiful. From a bit of grit may grow a pearl, and if pearl production doesn't materialise, the outcome will still be preferable to the shallowness of vanity.
Times may have changed, but there are some things that are always with us - loneliness is one of them.
My husband is leaving me. No dramas, no slammed doors - well, OK, a few slammed doors - and no suitcase in the hall, but there is another woman involved. Her name is Dementia.
As one ages, eventually, no matter what regime you've followed, no matter how fiercely you've fought the fight, good health becomes harder to maintain. It may disappear overnight or simply dwindle, but with every year that passes, the odds shorten.
I have but one rule at my table. You may leave your cabbage, but you'll sit still and behave until I've eaten mine.
Dementia is quite unlike cancer or heart disease or any of those other conditions where you bargain with God for a cure or even just a bit more time.
My research process doesn't vary much. I do a little reading to establish a timeline and decide how I'm going to approach the story.
None of us wants to be reminded that dementia is random, relentless, and frighteningly common.
Sorry, I don't do castles. I hate those winding turret stairs.
With Alzheimer's, recent memory is affected first. At the start, you count the memory loss in days, then hours - then in minutes. But there's also an insidious backward creep of deterioration.
As well as writing novels and doing short-order journalism, I am also the full-time carer of my husband, who has Alzheimer's. Each day feels like a race that must be run.
Caring burns a lot of fuel - psychological and physical, too, if any lifting is involved. The energy tank is soon emptied, and the toll caring takes is well documented. It's called carer burn-out.
I love working fictional characters into a piece of history. It plays to my strengths, which are characterization and dialogue, and assists me in my admitted weakness, plot.
I'm thankful my parents obliged me to live with the unvarnished truth: I might not have been a looker, but I was a better speller than the prettiest girl in my class, and I was funnier, too.
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