If you’re just now catching my blog posts, may I explain more fully for you what I’m trying to do and why? I started this newsletter/blog and opened a website for two reasons: one is practical and the other, I guess, you could call altruistic.
You may be aware that I’m writing a book about our family’s 17-year experience with Alzheimer’s. Its working title and subtitle: A Path Revealed: How Hope, Love, and Joy Found Us Deep in a Maze Called Alzheimer’s. When my book will be published is still up in the air.
In anticipation of its publication, I decided a website and blog would be a good way to preview the book and our family’s story. The feedback I get should help sharpen what I’m saying in the book as well as be an indicator of the interest that may or may not be out there with a story like ours. That’s the practical reason.
The “altruistic” reason? I decided to write this book … Correction: I felt compelled to write this book because I sensed that our family and I had gone through enough unique experiences that our story might be worth telling to others who are enduring their own crises. Not that they would copy what we did, but our story might spark ideas and initiatives as they wrestled with their issues. They might hear echoes in our story that would help reinforce their decisions one way or another.
As I wrap up my manuscript, it seems like a long time yet before my book will see the light of day. Thus, my website and blog help fill that gap in time.
Which brings me to a question I’ve heard more than once: So your blog and newsletter are comprised of excerpts from your book?
The simple answer is, “No.” The more complicated answer is, “Yes and no.”
My posts will occasionally contain short excerpts from my book. By short, I mean a paragraph or two. Well … our daughter Kathryn’s poem is an exception, but it’s only one of her nine that will be in my book.
Our story includes experiences that I can write about only in a book format. The context of these experiences requires too much time and space to cover in the type of posts I’m comfortable writing—short, readable, and to the point.
Thus, my online posts are more like takeaways that my family and I continue to learn from. But I hope to do more than that with this newsletter/blog. I’ll be looking to add more variety while working around the same theme: How can I come to grips with a serious crisis, whether short-lived or long, and emerge healthier and stronger? Our crisis has been Alzheimer’s; yours may be something else.
I do need to make this clear: The focus of my book and blog is not on Alzheimer’s; that’s the context of our story. The focus is on the spiritual path that unfolded, quite unexpectedly, before my wife Martha, our children, and me over 17 years. For lack of a better term, you can call my book a spiritual memoir.
I try to set the tone of this spiritual journey in my book’s Prologue: “In telling our story, I must speak in Christian terms and images because that’s the faith and tradition I grew up with, carried into adulthood, and after a long drought, embraced. In doing this I’m not denying another’s spiritual heritage. Our story is not about scoring theological points. It’s about trying to survive, about finding what works and what doesn’t as we move through a dark, inscrutable maze. It’s about stepping outside our comfort zone to reach anything that holds fast and true. Words do matter. But the truth behind the words matters more.”
That said, I know some people are just not into spiritual things. I get that. I’ve been there too. So if you’re not, you may want to unsubscribe from my e-newsletter because that’s where this blog and my book lead—into the spiritual. There’s no authentic way I can tell our story otherwise. The names “God” and “Jesus Christ” are so overused today, and often abused for manipulative reasons, that invoking their names out in the public square would give most persons pause, including me. Yet here’s my dilemma: I can’t tell our story without calling on their names, often in the most intimate of ways.
Several friends from traditions other than Christianity have signed up for my newsletter. I hope my telling of our story permits enough breathing room so that you can translate our story into your own faith’s vocabulary and experience.
A few more quick comments, and I’ll close.
First, if you’d like to check out previous newsletters, you can start here with my first one.
I state this in those early posts: I am not a licensed psychologist/psychiatrist or an ordained minister. What I’m sharing in these posts is drawn from nearly two decades of experience wrestling with the consequences of Alzheimer’s disease on our family. Each person’s odyssey is unique. As you travel your own path and encounter serious obstacles—be they mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual—I strongly encourage you to start an ongoing conversation with a trusted counselor, guide, pastor, doctor, or friend. And with your family.
Finally, if you find what I’m sharing to be valuable, you may sign up for my free weekly newsletter here: www.carlenmaddux.com.
Thanks for your interest in our story.