Spotlight: ‘Elegy for Mom,’ a caregiver’s memoir of empathy and growth

Elegy_for_MomWhile Vicki Kaufmann’s mother suffered from mixed dementia, Kaufmann learned about the challenges of caregiving. She knows that caregivers want to research medical facts and also to let themselves feel empathy for the person who is sick. In this memoir, she aims to provide caregivers a new perspective on what they do. Caregiving can be, as she puts it, “a pathway to new levels of grace, courage, creativity, and love.”

Elegy for Mom: A Memoir of Family Caregiving, Alzheimer’s, and Devotion was published by Middle River Press in 2015. You can purchase it through Kaufmann’s website Caregiver Families. It is also available on Amazon.

Spotlight: More books on Alzheimer’s Disease

AlzAuthors features the work of over 160 authors writing about Alzheimer’s, including books of non-fiction and fiction. Here’s five more books!


 

The Memory Keeper by Jessica Bryan

Jessica Bryan is a caregiver and author of four books. In this book, she describes coping with her mother’s advanced Alzheimer’s Disease as her mother’s memories disappear in the haze of dementia. What is raw and sad is also humorous and candid. She shares how she overcomes anger and frustration, and her words act as suggestions for others undergoing the same ordeal. She writes, “I hold the memories of this beautiful woman who is disappearing thought by thought, sentence by sentence and memory by memory. I want to remember the moments we have left, the good and the bad times, the laughter and the tears. I am the memory keeper.”


 

Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia by Vicki Tapia

Faced with caring for both parents after their dual diagnosis, author Vicki Tapia watched helplessly as her mom and dad both descended into the rabbit hole of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. Her memoir, Somebody Stole My Iron, weaves their family’s struggle into an engaging story, filled with humor and pathos. The narrative offers an honest and heartfelt glimpse into the ups and downs of life with memory loss and provides readers useful information and tips for coping. “I wrote my story to offer hope to others whose lives have been intimately affected by this dreadful disease,” she explains, “to reassure them that they’re not alone.”


 

Alzheimer’s Daughter by Jean Lee

Both of Jean Lee’s parents were diagnosed on the same day. Published in 2015, this memoir has over a hundred reviews on Amazon and was voted #5 in the best selling books about Alzheimer’s by Book Authority.


 

A Turbulent Mind: A Poetry Collection of a Mother’s Journey with Alzheimer’s by Jay Artale

This poetic memoir is about Jay Artale’s mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s. It’s a collection of 39 poems with a peppering of wry humor to destigmatize the impact of dementia.


 

My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver by Martin J. Schreiber and Cathy Breitenbucher

Former governor of Wisconsin Marty Schreiber has seen his beloved wife, Elaine, gradually transform from the woman who gracefully entertained in the Executive Residence to one who no longer recognizes him as her husband. In My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver, Marty candidly counsels those taking on this caregiving role. With patience, adaptability, and even a sense of humor, Marty shows how love continues for his Second Elaine. My Two Elaines was named a Best Caregiving Book of both 2017 and 2018 by Caring.com. Marty has also reached thousands of Alzheimer’s caregivers at more than 300 presentations around the country since November 2016.

 


 

Image at top: Based on a 2012 photograph of an elder Selkup woman in Krasnoselkup, Yamal. Photograph by Aleksandr Popov. Wikimedia Commons.

Spotlight: Books about Alzheimer’s Disease

AlzAuthors features the work of over 160 authors writing about Alzheimer’s, including books of non-fiction and fiction.

Here’s just three of them! These three books are all available in both paperback and Kindle eBook editions. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read the eBook for free.


 

Motherhood: Lost and Found by Ann Campanella

This memoir, the author explains to me, “tells the story of my mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s when I was in my early 30s and struggling through a series of miscarriages as I was trying to become a mom myself. I live on a horse farm, so horses are the backdrop of the story. My thoroughbred Crimson, a grandson of Secretariat, helped carry me through this difficult period of my life. I was honored to have my memoir named ‘One of the best Alzheimer’s memoirs of All Time’ by Book Authority.”


 

Finding Joy In Alzheimer’s: New Hope for Caregivers by Marie Marley, PhD and Daniel C. Potts, MD, with a foreword by Maria Shriver

The authors explain the importance of overcoming denial, accepting difficult situations, and finding hope, and they express their opinion about the role of spirituality. They provide tips for interacting with people with Alzheimer’s.


 

Forgotten Secrets (the first volume in the Singing River series) by Robin Perini

This fictional thriller features a crime witnessed by a person with Alzheimer’s.


 

Image at top: Based on a photograph c. 1900 of an elderly couple in Hampton, Virginia. Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection (Library of Congress). Wikimedia Commons.

 

‘Bad Fire’: A new, hallucinatory memoir

From the book description:

“A brief, galloping memoir of mental illness, containing unflinching observations and unorthodox positions on Judaism, atheism, gender, weight loss, madness, and butterflies. With color illustrations by the author.”

Bad_Fire


After these events concluded in my life, I spent seven months writing this thirty-page memoir. Every word has been scrubbed over and over. If these topics interest you, and if you want a short, emotionally intense, true story, then grab a copy of Bad Fire.

This is what I have to offer at this time. Thanks for your support.

eBook and Paperback

The written text has only ever been available through Amazon’s print-on-demand and Kindle services. For now, that it where it shall remain, though I am (in theory) interested in making it available through other printers/distributors, especially if readers are (in actuality) interested in reading it by other means.

Audiobook

You can listen to the entire memoir for free online. Bad Fire by Tucker Lieberman. Read by the author. (1 hour, 1 minute; MP3, 90 MB)
Intro/outro music by Tyops (Creative Commons attribution license).

Updates

Since publishing Bad Fire, I continue to learn and share more.

  1. “What can we make of the death of Aaron’s sons?”, published 7 March 2019 on JewishBoston.com, in which I discuss the Biblical background of some of the imagery in Bad Fire. 
  2. “The Suicide of Nadav and Abihu,” published in the Passover/Spring 2019 issue of Shalom Magazine, in which I reach a conclusion on that same question. (Turn to page 40 in the Issuu reader below.)
  3. I was interviewed by Maribel Garcia for Book Club Babble. (Posted 2 May 2019.)
  4. “Crisis: A Playlist” is my guest blog for Anne Davis’ Running In Shadows. (27 May 2020.)

Stories that awaken memories stored in the body

In her essay “Horror Lives in the Body” (Electric Lit, Oct. 10, 2018), Megan Pillow Davis identifies similarities between horror films and camp more generally. Both are “highly stylized and highly artificial. Horror consistently sports a veneer of low light and screeching violins. It’s populated by screaming women and the destroyed bodies of people of color.” These “orgiastic excesses are only matched by pornography,” and indeed, as she quotes director Edgar Wright, horror mimics pornography in having “some kind of splat every 20 minutes.”

In giving so much attention to physical detail, horror “moves beyond the bounds of visual and auditory fear and into the kinetic.” Here lies one of its strengths.

“This is more than just the fight-or-flight response. It’s about the way that the movements in horror echo in our bodies and how we listen to them. The shocks and jumps we experience while watching a horror movie are adrenaline, but they also signal an awakening of our own traumatic experiences, experiences that we are then compelled to relive. This makes the genre, and our bodies under its influence, something akin to a living archive of human trauma, a collection of bodily and psychological horrors, the things that we can often see coming but ultimately cannot escape.”

The horror genre then becomes emotional, Davis writes, as it “infuses violence with a cocktail of other muddled emotions that”—by contrast—”action movies frequently treat in isolation.”

This is important for writers to think about. A story does not only create new memories. It can connect people with the memories already stored in their bodies. In doing so, it is possible to awaken powerful emotions and teach about the strength needed to get through them.