The reaction to the book I just published has truly surprised me in the best possible way. Without an official book launch and only by word of mouth, it’s reached into five other states already. I’ve received encouraging emails, cards, and phone calls from unexpected places.
The story meets people in different ways. Some are looking for understanding of the Alzheimer journey or the caregiving aspect. Some are struck by aspect of being rejected by the very people who are supposed to love and nurture you. Others by forgiveness and faith, and still others about being totally honest with your feelings.
A woman in pastoral care ministry called to tell me how much she loved the book and how she’s referring it to clients. She encouraged me to get it out to a bigger audience. Another woman sent a photo of her copy with sticky notes throughout the pages saying these were places she needs to go back and ponder. Two other women on have purchased multiple copies to send around the United States to friends and family that they feel will be deeply touched by my testimony.
It is amazing and I am humbled by this response. And I’ve realized I need to get moving on getting these placed in book stores and in support groups. Currently they are available on Amazon and through me. I’ll keep you updated on book signings and other places you might find them. If you have any suggestions of places that would be good for this sort of book, feel free to let me know or to contact them with the recommendation. Thank you to everyone who has purchased and read this book. I hope it touches your heart in a deeply healing way.
Easter was cold, but the sun was shining brightly. Our plan for the day was to celebrate with Dad. I reminded Mike we needed to get there early in the likely event we’d have to get Dad dressed, or rather re-dressed. Lately, even when the aids get him up and about, he goes back to his room and gets undressed by himself and getting him to put his clothes back on is quite a process.
As I suspected, Dad was not ready for an Easter luncheon. He wasn’t even out of bed, and didn’t want to get out of bed. We started our negotiations.
“Get up, Dad, and we’ll have an Easter dinner together.”
“No, why don’t we have it in here?”
“No, it’s a lovely day. Get dressed and we’ll go to the dining room together.”
“You go without me.”
“Dad, we came to be with you. Going without you defeats the whole purpose.”
“Oh. Okay.” But he makes no move to get up.
“It’s Easter, Dad. I’ve made you a present.”
“Yep. But you have to get up and get dressed to get it.”
“Let me see what it is first.”
He smiled. It was going to be a good day. So good, in fact, that when he got up he as able to dress himself. The aids came in to get him to the dining room and were delightfully surprised that he was almost ready to go. Dad joked with them and when they left he told me he had a strategy to make all the staff like him. If only he remembered that strategy when he got angry and threw things at them. But today, for now, he was in good form and we went to the dining room together and joined another patient whose family was not able to be with her.
The conversation around the table was disjointed. Dad was deep into childhood memories, our table companion had developed certain coping mechanisms to cover her memory loss and both were chatting away about different things and were at peace. The sun shone brightly in the large room, we shared a meal together, and calm reigned for the day. I found great joy in that. When dealing with dementia, finding joy is vital.
For those of you in the Western tradition - hope you had a Happy Easter. For those of you who celebrate Passover, Shalom! May your Pesach overflow with happiness! For those of you in the Orthodox tradition who will celebrate Easter this weekend, Kaló pásha ...Happy Greek Easter!
May you be blessed. May you find peace.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.