Embracing the Privilege of Giving Back

The one book on Alzheimer's/Dementia
that no one else could write!
Guest post by Elaine C. Pereira, MA OTR/L, CDP, CDC. 

Writing a book was never on my post retirement to-do list. In fact I had explored volunteering for the Humane Society, which in retrospect probably wasn’t a good idea. I’m such a softie for mewing kittens and wide-eyed hopeful dogs with helicopter wagging tails I would have wanted to take all of them home with me. Three is enough, we already have two big dogs and a cat and the shedding is endless.

My mother’s is a story that needed to be told and, as a tribute not only to her but also to everyone with a remarkable story, I did! She was a kind, brilliant and talented woman all of my life until Dementia took hold distorting her persona and leaving an agitated, bewildered and compromised person in its wake.

The same woman who earned a BS in chemistry in 1945 post WWII, went on for her Master’s in Education and taught high school math for years, literally couldn’t add 2+2 in the end. She was a great mom not unlike all great moms except that she was mine.

In what would be her final months, as my mother continued her rapid descent into Dementia’s clutches, her once strong voice faded away. Our quiet visits together afforded me the opportunity to reflect on the vivacious life that defined her. I was determined that she would not be remembered as a withering mumbling older woman but as the strong, courageous and gifted lady who was my mom.

Like the Phoenix, from her ashes arose I Will Never Forget.

Fortuitously I retired as a school Occupational Therapist in 2010 as that turned out to be Mom’s year from hell. Her descent into Alzheimer’s was very rapid and she died in 2011. I was grateful to be able to give back to the woman who gave so much.

I was not the easy kid to raise; that would have been my brother. Despite being spunky and spirited, or perhaps because of it, my recollection of childhood was great! We did everything together, picked strawberries, went shopping, had lunch outings, went to the movies, made endless batches of Toll House cookies and home made fudge using a candy thermometer, etc. Mom made all the holidays magical.

As an adult I earned my BS in Occupational Therapy from Wayne State University and later my masters. My twin daughters were born 1978 thrusting me into the wonderful but challenging unchartered waters of motherhood. When my girls turned 13, my mother sent me a condolence card! Oh did I get it. My years of mouthy disrespect were about to come back and haunt me!
Elaine C Pereira: Author, Speaker and “Caregiver Extraordinaire"
I’m blessed to be a grandmother now to three wonderful little ones ages 6, 3 ½ and 20 months. The daughter who gave me the most grief during her spirited and mouthy teenage years is now an amazingly patient mother. She inherited that gene from my mom and it makes me smile!

The circle of life continues, doesn’t it?

I donate from each copy of I Will Never Forget to Alzheimer’s research in part so my daughters don’t have to write a book about me one day.

Please Help Me Help Others.

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