Ramblin’ Road: My book is a memoir of joys, sorrows

by Phyllis McCrossin

December has been a busy month for me. I finally published the book I’ve been working on since April 2015.

Yes. I wrote a book. Yes, it’s been published – self-published. Thanks to Amazon, anyone can write and publish a book.

This book has been a work of love, angst and memories – lots and lots of memories.  It’s the story of my mother, Christine (Daling) Stehower, and her dementia. But that sounds so clinical.  It’s more than that, much more.

The love of my mother’s life was my father. And Dad must have really loved Mom as well, because it was only after he passed away we learned just how bad our mother’s “confusion” was. Dad hid it very well from us. I think he thought he was doing a good thing for Mom. He wasn’t. But then nothing can prepare family for the hell of dementia.

Sometime after Dad passed away and Mom’s confusion became even more real, I started writing a weekly blog about it. The blog was about the laughter, the tears, the frustrations and the memories of Mom before she quite literally lost her mind. I had a small following of mostly friends and family.

When Mom passed away, several people approached me at her funeral and suggested I turn my blog into a book. I’ll never know if they were being kind, really meant it, or were just making small talk. But I took them at their word and started turning my blog into a book.

That was in 2015. I’m pretty sure only Tolstoy took six years to write a book, and his was considerably longer (and better) than mine. I wrote, put it away for a few months (or was it years?) dusted off my thumb drive where it was stored, and worked some more. I finished my first draft in 2017 and sent it out to friends to proof it…they didn’t like it. So I worked on it some more, and then put it away. For a long, long time.

But every time I sat down at the sewing machine, every time I got out my crochet hook, or played a game of solitaire, I’d think to myself, “I should be working on my book.”

So, this fall I finished it. I sent it off to a friend for a first proof-reading and then printed out two copies for my sisters. If anything I wrote offended them I decided I would scrap the entire project. But they liked it, and encouraged me to publish it.  

It’s really a memoir. There is nothing clinical about it. There is no “how to talk to a person with dementia,” there is no clinical overview of dementia and there certainly is no “how to cope with someone with dementia.”

It’s a story about my Mother. It starts with a little bit about her early life, then goes into the details of the Mother I knew while I was growing up and finally talks about the frustration, love, laughter and tears of watching all those past memories and stories disappear.

If you want to read it, check it out on Amazon.  (If the link doesn’t work, go to Amazon and type in “Who Is that Stranger in the Chair?”). It’s available in paperback and electronically. At 121 pages, it hardly seemed worth it to turn it into a hardcover book.

I should note, I’m not in it for the money, in fact, I’ll be ecstatic if I sell 100 copies.

Be kind, don’t kick sand in the sandbox, and may all your memories be good ones.

1 Comment

  • Congratulations, Phyllis on your book! I can say I can relate with some of your stories. My mother also has dementia, she is still with us and lives with my sister. She’ll be turning 92 next month
    I sometimes have her come stay with us for a few days, but the last time it was too much for her and me.
    I really have a deep respect for those who take care of people with this condition. It’s definitely a job that takes a lot of patience.

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