Writing Restores a Mother-Daughter Relationship in I’ll Have Some of Yours

By Annette Januzzi Wick

The Missing Link

I was never motivated to write about dementia, nor was I motivated to write about my mother, who experienced the disease. But what had been a consistent theme in my work was writing about loss.

When I began blogging about my mother’s cognitive decline, I wrote about the lack of conversations we had in which we could have rediscovered each other. I noted the absence of information I had to determine what she wanted for her future. I wrote about the missing link between childhood and adulthood—when our parents essentially go missing from our lives.

Or is it the other way around, do we go missing from theirs?

As an eighteen-year-old, I left for college and didn’t return until Thanksgiving, despite how easy it would have been to carpool home. I moved four hours away to Cincinnati for my professional career, one she never had. Married and pregnant, I ditched my career in Ohio for Oregon, and vowed to not return. I was running away from the life my mother had made to create my own.

The fall I gave birth to a baby boy, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought her battles out my sight, under the watchful eyes of my father, and siblings who lived closer to home.

The Fates had called me back to her. But I didn’t answer. Not yet.

One year later, my young husband was diagnosed with leukemia. After relapse and remission, he underwent a bone marrow transplant to transform his blood cells. Our young family had temporarily moved to Seattle for the medical procedure. Over the phone, conversations with my mother living in Ohio were still tense. Instead, I opened up to her in a new manner.

Every day, I wrote a letter home to my mother. Sealing and mailing the envelope, I didn’t know exactly what I was articulating, but had a sense the person who knew me best would understand. Writing became a way for me to fill in the gaps between us. Words brought us closer despite the thousands of miles in between.

When my father died twelve years later, my mother’s memories began to fade. Her care fell to me. I wasn’t surprised. That which we run from we will confront again.

For a while, she and I bravely battled the looming shadows. But as her dementia caught up and settled in alongside us, we fell into comfort with our roles. A writer writes. A mother loves. For all that she criticized about my wisps of hair, she gave me what she had left. And I gave my mother her story in return.

If one asked my mother, what was the impetus for your daughter’s running away, she would answer, “She was always running. The running away came later.” Her dementia, and writing what later became I’ll Have Some of Yours, had forced me to slow down. To stop running away from her. To sit and fully inhabit those gaps between us.

I, and not my words, had become the missing link.

* * *

As my words are finding their way into the hands of readers, copies of the book I’ll Have Some of Yours: What my mother taught me about cookies, music, the outside, and her life inside a care home were purchased for all Arden Courts memory centers as well as recommended by Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library as a holiday gift. Also, an audio version of I’ll Have Some of Yours will soon be ready for release.

However, I have stopped tracking book sales and online reviews. Instead, I count the number of lives that have been touched and the number of moments in which a caregiver has also discovered how to be the link for their loved one between the present and the past.

Purchase  I’ll Have Some of Yours: What my mother taught me about cookies, music, the outside, and her life inside a care home

About the Author

Annette Januzzi Wick is a writer, speaker and author of I’ll Have Some of Yours: What my mother taught me about dementia, cookies, music, the outside, and her life inside a care home (Three Arch Press), available through online retailers and distributors. Visit www.annettejwick.com to engage her services or learn more about her workshops and book tours.

Connect with Annette Wick

Website  (includes links to blogs)

Find You In the Sun (blog)



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