A recent study revealed that the number one thing that baby boomers want to do is write memoir. It’s not that each of us has lived such interesting lives, but we seem to understand that writing memoir, whether in book, blog, or letter form, is an excellent portal to self-examination.
I recently began reading a short but great book about writing memoir: The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith.
I thoroughly enjoy reading and re-reading this book, because it isn’t just about how to write, but more about how we live our lives. Not surprisingly, it is also very well-written. I enjoy Marion’s writing so much, I decided to read her first attempt at memoir, Another Name for Madness from 1985.
As it turns out, Marion Roach Smith was one of the first writers to tell others about living with Alzheimer’s in the early 1980s, first through her New York Times Magazine article, which she turned into a book.
Here she educates others about the daily experience of watching her own mother disappear into oblivion, beginning around age 50. Marion was only in her mid-twenties as she dealt with the loss of her mother day-by- day over a number of years.
After publishing her NYT article, she received hundreds of letters and phone calls, most of which began with the phrase: “I’ve never told anyone this…” about the shame, sadness, embarrassment, denial, and pure exhaustion involved in providing long-term care for victims of Alzheimer’s disease.
I had no idea how little we knew about this irreversible descent into madness back in the 1980s. I had no idea what this terrible disease can do to a family, and how it can ruin the finances of just about anyone. Read this book to gain an understanding of this experience from the inside out.
I have read that Alzheimer’s disease is increasing with the boomer generation. If this is true, we are all in for a rough ride…