My Dan and I are growing older.
We nap now.
We nod on the couch,
Or slide between cool sheets in a shade-drawn room.
We curl our bodies into
The shape of sleep,
And allow the day to carry us
— At least for an hour or so —
Into dreams of deep-grayed wisdom.
Today I held deep conversations about genetically modified foods, golf
and what techniques garner the best result on a score card,
and how to cook the perfect hard and soft-boiled eggs.
These were important conversations.
I learned. I listened. I contributed.
But the most important was the conversation I didn’t have.
Scooting a chair up, knee-to-knee to my sister, I smiled into her face.
I’m here, I said. She smiled.
My sister no longer speaks words. Her face is mostly still.
She is now a listener, while I’ve become the talker.
Some days, I don’t know what to say.
In spite of earlier conversations about food and golf and eggs,
Today was a silent day with my sister.
I’m elated to announce that All the Dancing Birds has been given an IPPY Gold Award for Popular Fiction. In the words of The Donald, this is YUUGE! An IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) is a prestigious acknowledgement of an author’s good work, and this year All the Dancing Birds competed against over 5,000 other titles. Wow!!!
Thank you all for your constant encouragement, your much-needed atta girls, and especially for your readership. I wrote the book for you … yes, you … and also for me. Alzheimer’s disease NEEDS us to encourage our leadership to enact legislation that will find a cure for this family devastation.
Until we find a cure, or even a reasonable treatment, know that as an author I love you all and I’m working diligently — as an Ambassador for the National Alzheimer’s Association — to acknowledge and also write about brain illness … from the inside-out.
I’m working hard on my next book — a mystery with a paranoid schizophrenic protagonist, and again from inside her mind. Yeah, I know.
All love to you!
On February 9, I’ll be pitching All the Dancing Birds to the nice folks at the Friends of the Phoenix Library.
Wish me luck!
Oh, we’re also entered with the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards to be announced some time in April.
More luck needed, and maybe lots of crossed fingers with that!
Grand thanks to those who were able to attend the Arizona Historical Society’s Book Event during February. I appreciate your comments and interest in All the Dancing Birds. People were informed — books were sold!
I’ll be appearing in Sacramento, California, on February 6, 2013, on the brilliant Shelly Alcorn’s informative web event (specific details with time and web location to come). I’ll be speaking about how fiction informs and enlightens on topics previously connected with strictly nonfiction or clinical subjects.
Stay tuned, my friends. Things are getting exciting for All the Dancing Birds.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that I’ll be signing All the Dancing Birds Friday, January 18, 2013, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Arizona Historical Society, 1300 N. College Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281. Also a number of Sisters in Crime, Desert Sleuths mystery writers will also be signing. Come and meet us — browse, find something that floats your reading boat and chat with the author.
We’ll be looking forward to meeting you!
So proud to announce that All the Dancing Birds was selected as the prize in Poet, Drew Myron’s Off the Page blog. As guest blogger, she asked me some good, probing questions. Stop by her blog, pull up a steaming cup of tenderness, and enter to win a signed copy of All the Dancing Birds. We’re so excited to share!
Authors — We creak and groan and click and clack. Our words are hopefully brilliant, but often they fall and thud until we make many, many revisions, until tears are shed and arguments are waged and stories are changed until they are just right. We work hard on what is called our “craft.” The thing is that it’s just plain hard work. From the start of a swirling idea, to a finished book in the hands of a reader — that reader expectantly opening it like a bird would open its wings just before flight — a writer works hard to entertain, to illuminate and invigorate, to keep their story alive.
With that in mind, I introduce All the Dancing Birds, available now on Amazon.com in Kindle and hardcover and at Barnes & Noble in hardcover. You can also just click the buttons on the home page here and … voila! … there you are.
Thank you all for your interest and care. So many of you are readers with an Alzheimer’s family member. I love you. Many of you are just interested. I love you too.
Please feel free to poke around this new website format. There is (somewhere) a form to contact me. I’ll receive it. I’ll answer.
In the meantime, my heart to you as readers and (especially), I give my love to you as caregivers, loved ones and friends.
Now here I am, a small flickering light, sputtering softly in my chair, shifting, winking on and off. I’ve been trying to think my way out of this paper bag of a morning, but so far, I’ve only come up with the notion that, somehow, my mind is structured slightly differently than it was yesterday.
I’ve turned oddly forgetful.
Thus, begins the story of Lillie Claire Glidden, a mid 50-year-old, wine-drinking, fan-fluttering poet, widow and mother of two grown children.
Due out mid-August, All the Dancing Birds will speak to anyone who has ever taken care of anyone else, or anyone who has ever been sick. Let Lillie Claire take you on a guided journey through the mind of Alzheimer’s. Let her charm you with her Southern manners and ignite you with her Northern California sensibilities. Above all, let her show you what life looks like when words have all disappeared and love is the only thing left.
We sit in straight, hard backed chairs, knee-to-knee, hand-in-hand. My sister wears light blue hospital scrubs—she’s apparently graduated from wearing gowns. Her face is thin; she’s lost a good deal of weight, but her lower legs are heavy with edema, her knees swollen, like grapefruits.
I’ve brought her a candy bar. She knows me and smiles.
For the past month and a half, she’s been mostly unable to speak, to get up from her bed, to eat. To engage. New medication helps her now—for the most part. Still heavy-lidded, she speaks little. She tells me several times over that she doesn’t remember anything. She’s forgotten my visit two days earlier, when we sat for two hours in our straight chairs, our knees together, our hands knitted together. She doesn’t remember how she got from her bed to the dayroom. She’s forgotten what she ate for lunch two hours earlier, or that she’s mentioned her forgetfulness several times.
It doesn’t matter.
We simply sit in our straight chairs, knee-to-knee, hand-in-hand, and let the moment shine.