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My Mother, My Son by Dwayne J. Clark
Publisher: Aegis Living
There are many journeys we take in life but rarely do we expect one that will change the course of events that are beyond our control. After taking care of my own mom for ten years, I realized that others needed to understand and embrace those they love before it’s too late. As the author relates his mother’s words, thoughts, and shares his journal with readers, we learn about the journey of this amazing woman, the care and love he provided for her and most of all how caregivers, family members and the public can come to understand the one disease that has no cure Alzheimer’s as it sneaks into your brain and washes away who you are but never You.
The memoir begins with a simple letter from his mother written by a close friend telling Dwayne how proud she would be if she could express herself. It is a special night for him as he is receiving an award for all of his achievements. With his mom now a resident in his assistant living facility the author learns the true impact of what he has so amazingly created for others and now himself and begins to truly understand the importance of the care he provides for so many seniors.
The journey begins in 2005 before the diagnosis and when things were normal. Alzheimer’s has a mind of its own. It does not decide to leave once it is housed within the mind of an unsuspecting victim. This is a memoir to honor the memory of Mary Colleen Clarke. A mother who was his champion, support and the glue that kept his family together when his father no longer cared. A mother who slowly became short-tempered, forgetful and began to exhibit behaviors that was totally out of character for her. A diagnosis that is irreversible, heartbreaking and often hard to accept. Dwayne J. Clarke realized his mother was exhibiting these behaviors and realized she needed help. Deciding to share his story and creating a blog expressing his inner most feelings and concern was the first step he took in his journey to understanding this dreaded disease. Writing this book a great resource for caregivers and a wonderful way to make sure his mother’s voice was heard.
As the author flashes back to where it all began he shares his mothers life in India, her experiences in Catholic School and the antics she pulled and the trouble she got into being headstrong, feisty and smart. Even as an adult she knew what she wanted and often went about it in a unique way indicative to Colleen. But, this disease knows no boundaries and when his sister Edweena called and explained the behaviors his mother was exhibiting and her combative behavior he knew something had to be done.
The author flashes back and shares her early life and then the moment they found out and heard the diagnosis. His description of her near death experience in the diner was quite compelling and brings to light what happens when you think first and do not panic as he saved his mother’s life. In 2002 the verdict was handed down and the harsh reality finally set in. Understanding the final outcome and accepting it are often two different things and watching, as I did my mom, deteriorate each day, moment by moment and revert into the shell of the person she once was, is horrific for the person and equally for the family.
The only thing I will say is that my mom knew who she was until the day she passed we must have addressed her by her name so often it was the one thing she never forgot. The author continues to share her life in India, when she left home to marry and the heartbreaking realization that she was being placed in a facility that his nephew ran. Edweena’s mixed feelings and her responsibilities lightened but the heaviness of her heart never went away as she stayed with her mother as did Dwayne in her new home even when she wanted to leave. The disease progressed and the times she recognized family decreased but the real Colleen never faltered as sparks of who she was shined through and one family would never give up on her or the fight to keep her with them.
When all was said and done Dwayne delivered the eulogy in the style that would make his mother proud using the words most of us would not say and honoring her memory. The final pages are really great as they provide a resource for families who truly need to understand the disease, the resources available and much more. Read pages 269-271 which include his 14 Guidelines for the Journey. Her journey might have ended but her legacy will always live on. This is one memoir everyone needs to read to understand that Alzheimer’s is deadly and we need for find the cure.
Reviewer: Fran Lewis
Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters degrees and a PhD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure. The title of her new Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story. She is also the author of Because We Care and Sharp as A Tack or Scrambled Eggs: Which Describes Your Brain? Her latest book is Faces Behind the Stones. She was the musical director for shows at her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request for several sites. You can read some of her reviews on Ezine.com and on ijustfinished.com under the name Gabina. You can visit Fran at her website, blog, and book review blog.