Have you downloaded your free ebook yet? It’s my memoir, The Grapes of Dementia

Graphic by me. Book cover designed by me. And yes, that’s me on the cover. Donna Clement took the photo, and Luis H. Ruiz chose the font colors and sizes and placed the text where I told him to. I’m bossy that way.

I wrote the story anyway, added a little bit of hope to it, and people seem to like it.

It’s available worldwide.

AMAZON UNIVERSAL LINK: smarturl.it/TheGrapesofDementia

AMAZON UK LINK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N8QYW5A

AMAZON .COM LINK: www.amazon.com/dp/B01N8QYW5A

To honor the 10-year anniversary of my husband’s passing from Alzheimer’s disease, I’m offering my ebook for free. You don’t need a Kindle to download it, but do it before this offer expires at midnight Pacific Time on Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

And please consider leaving a review after you’ve read it.

Here’s what one reader said about The Grapes of Dementia:

This sweet little book is a intimate portrait of a relationship affected by dementia. Love carries the day as both people navigate the changes brought on by the progression of dementia. The honest portrayal of the full range of emotions is heartbreaking, but also hopeful, as each person does their best to accept the inevitable changes and transient nature of life.

An excerpt from the book:

(This excerpt takes place after Alan has entered a nursing home I’ve named the Rose.)

Decluttering

It’s been two months since Alan moved into the Rose. Most of his possessions, though, are still home. I decide to straighten out, put away, and store as much of his stuff as makes sense right now. I think if my home is cleared of some of his things, or if some of his things are moved around that my life too will be clear and orderly.

When Alan lived with me at home, he believed if he put things in plain sight where he could see them that he would remember he had them and remember where they were, and remember to use them. My side of our double-sinked bathroom holds a drinking cup and a second cup full of mascara, eyeliner, and other sundry stick-like makeup applicators. The rest of my things are in the drawers on my side of the oak vanity.

On Alan’s side, it’s hard to tell there’s a countertop surrounding the sink because of all the stuff. An oak glass-fronted bookshelf sits majestically on the wall to the right of his sink, and it’s also full of his toiletry items. I’m amused that the man of this house has more bathroom things than the woman does. I decide decluttering the bathroom can wait. Besides, he might need some of this stuff later on down the road.

I anticipate decluttering will be difficult, that my emotions will run away with me yet again. I decide to start with a relatively easy task: clearing the top of his dresser. This I know I can do. There isn’t much on it. We bought the dresser when he moved in with me, the first month we knew each other. The dresser is solid cherry, six drawers. It has some of the same dental molding as the china hutch sitting across from our bed. I store my sweaters and other folded tops in it. The dresser fits perfectly under the window and is the ideal complement to showcase the expansive green space beyond the windows, between buildings.

I approach the dresser and stop to survey what it holds. I run my fingers down the spines of the stacks of books that were there before Alan went into the hospital and then the Rose. Reading the titles shreds my heart:

— Evolve your brain: the science of changing your mind, by Joe Dispenza, D.C.

— Making a good brain great: the Amen Clinic program for achieving and sustaining optimal mental performance, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

— A better brain at any age: the holistic way to improve your memory, reduce stress, and sharpen your wits, by Sondra Kornblatt

— The brain trust program: a scientifically based three-part plan to: improve memory, elevate mood, enhance attention, alleviate migraine and menopausal symptoms, boost mental energy, by Larry McCleary, M.D.

Of course, nothing Alan tried worked. As good as these books may be, the information in them is for people with normal-functioning brains, not for people with dementia. Alan never understood that. Neither did his friends who recommended the books. Reading them and faithfully carrying out the exercises did not result in a better brain for Alan. He so wanted something, anything, to work. Nothing did. His disappointment grew with each new book he read, each exercise he tried. I let out a loud sigh and put the books aside, to be donated later.

Next, I put away Alan’s CDs. Just a handful, really: Beethoven, Bach, Amici, Deva Premal, and a self-hypnosis exercise guiding Alan how to dress himself. It was recorded several months ago by a friend, especially for Alan. Although Alan saw no improvement in his ability to dress himself, I certainly did. I encouraged him to play the tape often. He did, until he fell.

I pick up a stack of Alan’s handwritten notes and a notebook: random thoughts, instructions for writing memoirs, notes from a discussion group we participated in for a number of years. These I move into the study and place on a bookshelf for sometime in the future when I’ll begin detailed decluttering there, although I know I will keep these handwritten notes of his forever. I’ll go through them periodically to remember him. One day I’ll look at these notes again and get cozy with the familiar way he crosses his T’s and forms the loop of his g’s. And I’ll think back to the exact moment he wrote some of the notes.

I find miscellaneous items. There’s a magnifying glass — I put it in his desk drawer. A flashlight — that goes in the drawer of my nightstand. Pens and paperclips and paperweights — in the study. A purple speckled round box I painted for him a year and a half ago. There are framed photos of Alan’s spiritual teacher, Osho. Alan doesn’t want the pictures with him at the Rose. I was astonished by his insistence that he doesn’t want to see them ever again. I put them in the study for now, in case he changes his mind.

At a later time — whenever it makes sense — I’ll decide what to do with Alan’s bric-a-brac in the study, his pens and books and bookmarks, his elephant statue, tapes, photographs. I suspect much of it will end up in boxes in the storage room. But for now, I want to see all of it in front of me. It’s almost as if he never left. Alan is still living, and seeing his things reassures me.

Lastly, a few more things on his dresser: two decorative wooden birdhouses he painted and decorated just last spring when he attended an adult day care program. These I put in a place of honor on the glass shelves of my dresser/china cabinet. And while I’m at it, I gently fold a few sweaters he haphazardly stuffed onto its glass shelves last spring. I’ll take them to him in the autumn, when the air turns crisp and cool.

Ah, on the floor is the humidifier Alan liked to run during the winter. Although there’s a humidifier on the furnace, he preferred a bit more humidity. I don’t need it, so I stash it in the storage room.

I survey my work. The dresser top is clear, except for a lamp. That will stay. Before Alan moved in, there was no dresser there at all. Instead, two chairs and a bistro table with that same lamp. I consider moving the dresser out and bringing in the bistro table and chairs again. But no, the dresser will stay where it is. I need it for Alan’s out-of-season clothes. It stays.

I turn around and see on the narrow wall behind me his dressing gowns hanging on the hooks I installed on that wall. Dressing gown. This is the only evidence in my speech that I am married to a British gentleman. I now say dressing gown instead of robe. Alan could never find them in the closet, so I installed hooks for him on that narrow wall near his dresser. But now, I cannot imagine moving them or the hooks. I’m emotionally spent, too tired, too saturated in memories to deal with anything else today. Later, tomorrow, next week, whenever, I’ll put the dressing gowns in the closet. I’ll take the hooks down, spackle the holes, and finish the job with touch-up paint. But not now. Now I’ll sit silently for a while. With the clutter gone, there is more room, more space to hold my sadness.

Please share with anyone you know who might be interested in reading the book.

RIP Alan K. Wright — November 23, 1944, to July 26, 2011. Photo by me, 2009.

Writing mostly to heal myself from life; sharing in hopes you’ll find some of it helpful. Also books, personal development, and anything else I’m drawn to.