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".