Thursday, October 3, 2013

Within Reach

My novella Within Reach will be coming out May 2014 in e-Book form published by Melange Books.   It was a story I wrote when I was coming to terms with my mother's dementia and subsequent death.  While the story is based on my mother, it is not the true life story of her life and death, instead it was a tool for coping.  For the sake of simplicity I changed a lot of details but the essence of my experience is intact.

My mom, Marlys, was a gentle and sweet woman.  She had a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh.  A brilliant woman who seemed to have the answer to everything when I'd call her with a question about children, cooking or something that upset me.  Sometimes now, I wish I could tell her, "Mom, you were right about everything."  Many days I think, "I have to tell Mom" and find myself on the way to the phone before I remember she is no longer with us and I am left with a hole that will never be filled.  She was hardworking, holding down a full-time job and raising five children, not to mention volunteering at church.  I think I got a lot of my creativity from her--she tried painting, embroidery, refinishing furniture, crewel work, and decorating.  When I was fifteen she was diagnosed with lupus and was chronically ill from then on.  Rarely complaining she continued working and still kept her house cleaner than I can seem to.  Her health kept continuing downhill until she was diagnosed with dementia, then t-cell lymphoma. 

Dealing with dementia is a heartrending experience that is described in my story as "realizing she was being stolen from me one fragment at a time".  I struggled with losing my mother before she was actually gone from this world.  Letting her have her dignity while making sure she was safe was a balancing act I'm sure I didn't always do gracefully.  It was a mentally and physically draining time and I wish I had been more prepared to know how to help her.  Although there are medications for some forms of Alzheimer's we had no such weapons in our arsenal to fight the type of dementia my mother had. 

There are many websites and resources to help those in need.  The Alzheimer's Association is one of the places we turned to for information, and part of the proceeds from this story will be donated there for future research and caring for those who have the disease.

I will be writing more on Within Reach when we get closer to the release date but here's the official blurb for my story:

Within Reach is the story of Emma, a woman coming to terms with her mother’s increasing dementia and the everyday challenges associated with it.  Inexplicably, she finds herself ‘re-living’ specific events from her past.  She soon wonders if her own sanity is slipping, and only her mother can help find the key.

In memory of Marlys Joan Tonder Fick with love and remembrance.

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