I put down my copy of Louise Penny's 10th book in her mystery series and just sighed with pleasure. This book is The Long Way Home and, once again, I find myself without words at the conclusion of a Penny book. I'm not going to talk about my experience now because this book is the one my mystery book group will discuss on February 4th. Some of our group members check in here and I want to save my feelings for that discussion. However, here is a very short phrase that was repeated in this book more than once:
Surprised by joy...
Louise is very active on her Facebook page and updates it almost daily. She shared a while back that her husband, Michael, had been diagnosed with dementia and so that particular road will be one that they will travel down. She has also mentioned that her main protagonist, Armand Gamache, former Chief of Homicide for the Surete du Quebec, shares many of the same qualities as her dear husband. This month is Alzheimer's Awareness Month in Quebec and Louise has been asked to be one of the spokespeople. She has recently finished a draft of her next book and now is doing several events in order to highlight this disease and encourage people to ask for help.
I'm so sorry that dementia has come to reside with Louise and Michael, but I go back to the phrase above - surprised by joy. Alzheimer's is a road I have travelled down myself with my parents. We came to the end of that time together and it was hard and awful and stressful beyond all measure. And there were also times that I was indeed joyful and laughed with them and loved them so much. If you or someone you know are dealing with this, please know that you are not alone. Reach out. Ask for help. Talk to someone. Talk to me. It won't all be gray clouds and sorrow. You'll be "surprised by joy".
What a lovely post. I also had two parents who had dementia in their last years. My mother was sole caregiver for my father for many years, and it greatly impacted her health. I am sorry that Louise Penny will have to experience that pain.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much! I understand and am sorry about your parents. My mother took care of my father for many years also. Sadly, this is a situation that many people will have to deal with.Delete
I gather dementia is one of the illnesses that people fear most. I personally have no experience of it but am fully aware that this could change as my husband and I age. Your posts are inspiring, Kay, and make me less scared of such a thing happening. Thank you for that.ReplyDelete
Cath, what a nice thing to say. You know, everyone has to deal with some sort of illness and dementia happened to be the one we encountered.Delete
I always LOVE her books, but THE LONG WAY HOME didn't grab me.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful post. I haven't visited in a while, and I am so glad I did. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
The Wrong Hill To Die On looks good. I hope it is.
Yes, Elizabeth, THE LONG WAY HOME was one of the series that was a bit different - like the one in the monastery and the one when they were on vacation. I think this one will likely get mixed reviews from my group.Delete
I am sure it will get mixed reviews. It wasn't her usual grab me as I said above.Delete
I feel for Louise and Michael. I know it won't be easy for either one of them. I do know what you mean about those moments of joy, Kay. My grandmother had many bad days after the dementia set in, but I had never seen such a bright smile as the ones she would sometimes break into when she was happy-not even when she was completely healthy. My husband lost his uncle last year to early onset Alzheimer's. His last few months were terrible, and it was hard to see him and his family go through that experience. Talking about it really does help.ReplyDelete
I agree with you, Wendy. My dad, especially, seemed a happier person at times or maybe we could just get him to be happy by bringing him ice cream. :-)Delete
I love the series, but like Elizabeth, I was not as impressed with The Long Way Home. I'm sad to hear about Louise Penny's husband and like many others know the grief associated with losing a loved one to AD, but I am glad that she is still writing.ReplyDelete
I suspect that writing will be help her in some ways through this, Jenclair. And her sorrow will find a way into her books - maybe not through a dementia storyline, but in some way. She just announced that her next book will be called THE NATURE OF THE BEAST. Can't wait!Delete
I watched the interview video of her speaking about this topic. I just find her to be one of the most gentle, kind-hearted women I know*.ReplyDelete
*Nope, never met, but I feel like I know her. :)
I agree totally, Joy.Delete
What a great post, Kay. It's so noce when you can have such a personal connection with an author. I've read Still Life and need to continue on because most people seem to think the series gets better and better.ReplyDelete
Yes, this is a series that builds and builds. Honestly, her writing improves and the subtle nuances are wonderful. She has such a way with a phrase. Perfect for quotes to think about later.Delete
Such a lovely post, Kay. You are a kindhearted woman, you know.ReplyDelete
I need to give LP's books another chance. I've listened to the first two, but they haven't won me over. Yet. I'll have to try reading the print format of #3 and see if that makes a difference.
So sad about Louise's husband... ;(
I do think her writing has deepened as the series has continued, but it may be that this series is just not your cup of tea. And thanks for the sweet words. I feel pretty strongly about letting caretakers and family of dementia patients know that they are not alone and there are folks who can totally empathize. :-)Delete