I’ve recently finished two books after making some time for reading, something I’ve been missing while working away on my own novel the last year.
My nonfiction selection was Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. I always enjoy the heartwarming and inspirational stories in the Chicken Soup series, and this one especially since all the stories revolved around dementia. I especially enjoyed reading stories by my friends Jean Ferratier and Wendy Poole, whom I became acquainted with previously when we all had stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers. I want to thank these wonderful ladies for sharing their additional stories. Anyone who is facing dementia as a caregiver would benefit from reading these stories and find comfort knowing others share the same struggles;
I also just finished the novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. While I loved the fictional storyline, I did get dragged down a bit in the details of this one. It was so long that I nearly gave up reading several times. Luckily around half way through things picked up, and I was glad to finish it and see how Theo, Boris and the painting weathered their trials and tribulations in the end.
What’s next to read? I’ve got a list of novels that continues to grow longer and longer. But with all this reading I’m inspired to jump back into my own manuscript first!
What about you? Do you have a great book to recommend?
I just finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and I can’t believe this novel sucked me in like a tornado through a trailer park! How could I care enough about what happened to these despicable main characters – Amy and Nick – to finish reading this book? Oh how I grew to loathe them both as they were exposed to be self-absorbed, immoral, and foul-mouthed jerks. And yet I had to push on, hoping they’d both get what they deserved in the end.
I can’t remember another book where every character was so unlikable – not a good guy or girl in sight really. Regardless, I enjoyed the dueling first-person accounts between Nick and Amy along with the clever use of the diary as a decoy. Did I love the ending? Not so much. I admit I felt let down, although it did avoid predictable scenarios that way. I was already conjuring a few of them as the pages ran out.
Oh well, Gone Girl was still an entertaining read that I sprinted through to reach the finish line. Skip this if you’re offended by profanity because Gone Girl is f’ing full of it. I’m left wondering if the movie, due out in October 2014, will follow the book closely or take Hollywood liberties to provide the standard happy ending.
What about you? Do you want the Gone Girl movie to end the same as the book or not?
If you think Alzheimer’s only affects the elderly, think again. This video called “My Name is Lisa” does a great job of showing just how far and wide Alzheimer’s reaches. No one is immune.
What do you think about this video?
I’ve been so busy lately, but I made time to see two great movies about family relationships recently. I highly recommend them both as worthy of your time and money.
Nebraska was my favorite of the two movies. I thought this was a fantastic portrayal of how adult children must face the difficulties of aging parents. It runs you through the full spectrum of emotions in two hours – it’s a comedy, a drama, a horror story – all wrapped up into one. And then there’s a sucker punch at the end that really got me all teared up-well done! The best thing about it was how real it seemed. Families do have these kinds of problems, families do talk to each other this way, families do drive each other crazy, aging parents lose their minds and a filter on what they say. But in the end love is what keeps them together. I’ve got my fingers crossed for both Bruce Dern and June Squibb to win Oscars for their performances, which were outstanding, believable, and oh so painfully real.
I also saw August: Osage County and felt right at home with this dysfunctional family. Man oh man, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are so awful and wonderful in this at the same time. These relationships simmer with resentment and rage, just like in real families. The claws come out, the gloves go on, and this family really dukes it out after the father dies.
I’ve been given food for thought with both of these movies and keep rolling them over in my mind. In the end, I think it’s comforting to know that we all face issues and hardships with our family, but these complex relationships are the most important ones of all.
I’m thrilled to learn that “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova will make it to the big screen to help spread awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, and even more thrilled to see such a top notch actress as Julianne Moore involved with the project. This early-onset story will go a long way in educating the public that this disease is not just for the elderly and that a cure must be found.
How about you, are you excited to hear this novel will be made into a movie?
The Gettysburg Address, only 272 words in length, and yet one of the greatest speeches of all time written by Abraham Lincoln. On the 150th anniversary of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address, I took the challenge to write a similar appeal on something important to me in only 272 words.
Continue reading “The Gettysburg Address to Alzheimer’s Disease” »
I’m a big fan of the reality TV show Survivor, and I have developed a keen interest in this season’s Blood vs. Water twist pitting family members against each other. Specifically, I’m fascinated with Aras and Vytas Baskauskas, brothers whose thorny relationship practically screams dysfunctional family. These two have spilled enough backstory in the first three episodes to confirm my suspicions.
Continue reading “Airing Dirty Dysfunctional Family Laundry on Survivor: Blood vs. Water” »
I wanted to share this video about a beautiful couple facing the final chapter of their 60-year love story. May God bless Verna and and Jerry through their Alzheimer’s journey.
I thought this video would be unbearably sad, but instead I am in awe of this couple and their devotion. It made me happy that Verna has someone she can depend on through her illness. How does this love story make you feel?
I finally got around to watching the movie Bully last night. I kept putting it off because I was bullied as a child. Over thirty years later, the memory is still painful, a wound that will never completely heal. I still remember the fear, the panic of not knowing what to do, not knowing who to turn to for help, and feeling trapped and helpless by such senseless victimization. I’m so glad I put that aside to watch this movie though. It was extremely well done, depicted the problem accurately, and showed the misery of kids who are subjected to bullying.
The magnitude of the bullying problem was best illustrated for me by a parent admitting through tears that going to the parents of the bullies didn’t help because those parents just didn’t care enough about what was going on to do anything about the situation. Two families documented in the film had children who committed suicide due to continued bullying. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear these parents describe the hell that their children endured that forced them to end their lives. And the school administrators shown in this movie just didn’t have any answers about how to control the problem of bullying, they seemed to only acknowledge it existed without really doing much of anything about it.
Continue reading “All parents and kids should watch the movie Bully” »
Today I welcome the insight of a special caregiver. Cameron Von St. James has been kind enough to share his struggles and triumphs as a caregiver for his wife Heather. While every caregiving journey is different, we all share the same fears, frustrations, and overwhelming emotions that sometimes threaten to derail our efforts on behalf of those we love most. Read Cameron’s story here and then watch his inspirational video. I wish Cameron and his family many continued blessings and want to thank him for providing inspiration to help others dealing with similar challenges.
Being a Caregiver and Holding Onto Hope
By Cameron Von St. James
For my wife Heather and me, life completely changed on November 21, 2005. It was on that day that a doctor told us Heather had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and very deadly type of cancer. On that day, I became her caregiver, and I quickly learned that I was not prepared for the job. Only three months earlier, we were celebrating the birth of our first and only child, Lily. We pictured spending the late fall celebrating Thanksgiving and getting ready for our first Christmas as a family of three. Instead, we spent it in doctors’ offices, and our lives quickly became characterized by chaos.
Continue reading “Caregiving lessons: hope for those called to help” »