About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Creating something beautiful out of tragedy #drama #asmsg #Alzheimers

Authors are often inspired by something true that has happened in their personal lives. Whether it be fiction or nonfiction, the world around us ignites that spark that compels us to sit at the computer and pour our souls out for the world to see. Today Author Christoph Fischer is sharing his inspiration for writing the beautiful book, Time to Let Go, about how Alzheimer's affects a family. Welcome, Christoph!

“The Real Biddy Korhonen”
by Christoph Fischer 

I grew up with only a few friends and with two older siblings who were miles ahead of me in their lives. My mother was a busy woman and so I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house. She had always wanted to have four children but lost one child at birth. Her other three children were much older and didn’t need her much anymore, so my visits to her house filled a gap for her, in the same way as her attention to me filled a need in me. A match made in heaven. 

Philomena, or Minna, as we called her, remained a source of happiness and encouragement throughout my life. I was always welcome and treated like a precious gift. She smoked, but she outlived both of her sisters (taken in their 40s  by cancer). 

In her late 70s  Minna was diagnosed with Alzheimers’ disease. Well, I thought, at least she lives, belittling her misfortune without much awareness.

The next time I saw her, her trademark happiness however seemed far away. She was crying bitterly because she had lost her hearing aid, a very expensive one, too. Suddenly her life seemed to revolve around retrieving things. She was spared the physical pain of her sisters, but she suffered severe mental torture.

She fortunately reached a happier stage as medication and care helped reduce the misery in her life, but the attention she needed was a huge toll to the family. Despite her memory loss, she seemed to vaguely recognise me; me, the ‘child’ that lived abroad and who rarely came to visit. She had not lost her warmth and happiness, or maybe she had just regained it after the bad patch I mentioned earlier.

Very recently I saw her again, almost unrecognisable: withdrawn, very unresponsive and almost reduced to basic functioning. Surprisingly, she could still read and when I came to see her for a second time her eyes shone as if she did recognise me. I spoke an emotional goodbye to her and her hand was shaky and excited as she listened to my speech. She even responded by talking, using words that didn’t fit exactly but which expressed an emotion similar to what one would expect from a loving aunt in such a situation. 

With her loving kindness in mind I created Biddy, the mother in “Time to let Go”, a selfless, giving woman, who even in her illness manages to show her innate kindness.  I know it would be wrong to praise her for a gift that many other patients do not have, through no fault of their own. Losing one’s memory and control of one’s life is a terrible thing that you can only understand when it happens to you.
“Time to Let Go” is partly meant as a tribute to my brave aunt and to the wonderful people who help making her life dignified and as happy as is possible.

Let's take a peek inside…
He decided not to wait for Hanna’s return. She was supposed to have been gone for only a few hours but had not showed up yet. Knowing his daughter, anything was possible. He was eager to move the day along so that he and Biddy could watch an entire film before his wife would get tired and fall asleep. He had shortlisted several films which he thought his wife might enjoy but he could not make up his mind. After the last few evenings where Hanna had entertained her mother with silly musical movies he felt inclined to make a similar choice, but was not confident that he was the right company for Biddy to watch those films with. Would another musical like ‘Chicago’ be of any use, without Hanna there to cheer Biddy on?

In the end he settled for ‘The Philadelphia Story’, a classic screw ball comedy that Biddy had always loved, not least for its leading actors. The story line might intellectually be a little too demanding for his wife but it had enough slap stick moments to promise a pleasant evening.

Unfortunately Hanna came home early, before her parents had managed to settle into the film. Instantly distracted and excited by her daughter’s arrival, Biddy got up and paid no more attention to the TV.

Walter tried to set his wife up for telling the story about the swans and the dogs, but that memory was gone.

“Swans? You are talking a lot of nonsense today,” she said to Walter. “There are no swans here.”

“Not now,” Walter tried, unwilling to give up without further efforts to regain a memory for his wife. 
“We just went to the lake. The same as yesterday when you went to the lake with Hanna. The dog that chased the swans? That happened only two hours ago!”

“Daddy, you are upsetting her now. Leave her be,” Hanna said,

“Pumpkin, I can’t just sit back and let the disease take everything away from our life without a fight,” Walter said forcefully. “Sometimes you need to fight back. Biddy still has moments of clarity, she needs to try and remember. We need to challenge her. That swan and dog thing happened twice, that should stick somewhere in her grey matter.”

Biddy said nothing now and just stared sheepishly at the floor.

“What did you see at the lake?” Walter probed his wife.

“A lake? Oh my. But it is dark now!” Biddy protested.

“We are not going to a lake,” Walter said impatiently. “We already went this afternoon. The swans? The dog chasing them? Remember?”

“Swans,” Biddy said, nonsensical. “Swans, ha!”

“This afternoon I took you to the lake, Biddy. There was a dog chasing the swans,” Walter repeated, a bit more patient and encouraging.

“Dog. Hmmn.”

“Yes, Biddy. A swan and a dog. By the lake.”

“No, no, no,” Biddy said confused and shook her head. Her eyes looked fearful.

Hanna was quite shocked at the extreme disorientation her mother so suddenly displayed.

“I think you need to leave her alone,” she said quietly to her father. “You are getting her all worked up.”

“Dammit!” Walter hissed. “Why can’t she simply remember?”

He slammed his fist on the table and paced around the room.

“I told you many times,” he said pointedly. “You had a run of very lucky days as far as her illness is concerned. Since you got here she has been in great shape, but there are phases where it is really bad, just like this. She makes no sense at all now, does she?”

“If you know that, why are you pushing her? You are just aggravating her instead of reassuring.”

“As I said, I am trying to get a rise out of her,” Walter explained. “Yes you are right, she has withdrawn now. But I owe it to her as her partner to try, maybe once snap her back to reality, at least give it a good shot. Look at her, she doesn’t seem there, I can’t always watch and accept it, that would be giving up.”
Book Blurb…
Time to Let Go is a contemporary family drama set in Britain.
Following a traumatic incident at work Stewardess Hanna Korhonen decides to take time off work and leaves her home in London to spend quality time with her elderly parents in rural England. There she finds that neither can she run away from her problems, nor does her family provide the easy getaway place that she has hoped for. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and, while being confronted with the consequences of her issues at work, she and her entire family are forced to reassess their lives.
The book takes a close look at family dynamics and at human nature in a time of a crisis. Their challenges, individual and shared, take the Korhonens on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.

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