Mary Edwards-Olson Writes 2nd Book for Children About Dementia: Grandpa Is That You?

About Mary Edwards Olson

By Mary Edwards-Olson

My newest book, Grandpa, Is That You?, is another children’s book about the changes a loved one will go through when facing Alzheimer’s. This book differs from my first book, When The Sun Shines Through, in that instead of focusing on the good moments that shine through, it encourages the reader to continue to include their loved one in activities and social events no matter the changes that are taking effect. I find it so important to encourage children to ask questions, interact, and feel comfortable when Alzheimer’s becomes part of their loved one’s life. We hear of men and women being diagnosed in the 30’s, I’m 34 and my children are 5 and 6. I feel at peace knowing that if I were to be diagnosed at a young age, my children have the tools and understanding to come out on the other side stronger and ok because I never hid them from my mother’s Alzheimer’s journey. They have been a huge part of me finding the courage to write and share my story!

My motivation for writing and sharing the devastating journey my family has endured and survived is in part therapeutic and in a larger part the need to let others know they are not alone. It is therapeutic because carrying the weight of being a caretaker and holding on to the dark memories can start to break your soul. I remember standing in front of a mirror and not recognizing the person looking back. Once where a smile and bright eyes shone, sadness and depression had made their home. I cried more than I smiled, yelled more than I laughed, I was at war wanting to be who I was versus being who this disease had turned me into. Caretaking was slowly changing me emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

I remember when it all came to a head, I had gone to dinner with friends, I sat there, pretended to be ok, but it felt like I was watching a  TV show. Everyone was happy, not a problem in the world, and mine had come crashing down on me. My mother was dead because of Alzheimer’s, my dad was full of sadness and despair because of Alzheimer’s, my marriage was in shambles because of Alzheimer’s, my kids had to ask “Mommy are you ok?” because of Alzheimer’s……These words and intense emotions kept surging through my body as I sat there pretending to be ok. I remember going home, paying the babysitter, kissing my sleeping kids and whispering I love you into their ears. I quietly snuck back downstairs with the words I just want my mom playing in my head like a broken record and tears pouring down my face like a Texas rainstorm. I grabbed a piece of paper and all I could write was “I want my mom.” I opened the medicine cabinet and grabbed what I could, shoved it in my mouth before common sense could break through, and swallowed it all with a big gulp of night time cough syrup. I slid down the kitchen cabinet like slow molasses, my sweet dog climbed into my lap and rested his head on my chest and I slowly slipped into darkness.  There was no hero that saved me, no flashing lights, I simply woke up the next morning. Life in that moment hit me like a ton of bricks, how selfish to want to leave such a beautiful life, to continue my mother’s legacy with more sadness and devastation on the ones I love the most. Thank God my babies didn’t wake up to find their mother gave up, she let something beat her!

I decided to write and continue to write and create and talk until I felt good, and if all of that makes me feel good then I will continue to do it until my words and story are no longer needed. Alzheimer’s wasn’t going to use me to continue its path of destruction on families, I was going to use it to pave a path of hope for those who needed it like I did! I used this fire in my soul to find the strength to help others even when I wanted to give up!

I have received such wonderful and uplifting feedback from those who have read Grandpa, Is That You. The illustrations truly bring this book to life and add a playfulness to a very heartbreaking story. I have a few projects I have started to work on to help this book grow and I’ll keep praying and working hard in hopes they are created and upon completion spread awareness and hope like I believe they will! Knowing there is more in me to build on this book and these characters brings me peace. I loved my first book, When The Sun Shines Through. There was so much of my mother in that book but I needed to heal from the emotions that book stirred up. I’m not finished with everything I believe it will transform into and I love that feeling. That feeling to keep creating brings me peace.

I truly believe my book can help those living with the disease and help end stigmas connected to the disease. My book, even though a children’s book, really encourages the reader to embrace the changes your loved one is facing, not to hide away from society. If you are comfortable, those around you will be too. If others aren’t comfortable, then educate them.

Through sharing my story and writing I was honored by becoming part of Azheimer’s Authors. The support and connections I have made are bigger than selling books, I have become a part of family full of extraordinary people. We are strong, and our strength has touched so many lives, my daughter calls us heroes and a 6-year-old can’t be wrong. I had the privilege of being an ambassador for My Alzheimer’s Road Trip because of Alzheimer’s Author’s and I am so very grateful!

I am a mother, a daughter, a writer, and an Alzheimer’s caretaker survivor!

You can continue to follow my journey on Instagram Author.Mary.Edwards.Olson Facebook at: Author Mary Edwards Olson and Twitter @authorMEOlson

Click here to view Mary’s COVID-19 YouTube Video.

Share the Post:

Subscribe to Our eNewsletter

SUBSCRIBE to our weekly eNewsletter! Be among the first to know about new authors, podcasts, events, and more for help on your dementia journey. As a welcome gift, you may download our FREE booklet “Caring for a Mother with Dementia,”  featuring 15 quality titles. Subscription is through You may unsubscribe at any time.

Support Our Mission

Your support enables us to continue to provide quality resources for dementia caregivers. We appreciate any donation. Thank you for your support!