Dawn Gardner’s Novel, The Jade Butterfly, Brings a Tumultuous Mother-Daughter Relationship to Peace


By Dawn Gardner

The primary reason I wrote The Jade Butterfly was to honor my grandmother, Maude. She died in the mid-1950s of breast cancer. My own mother was five when Maude passed. I always wondered about the pain of losing a mother at such a young age. The opening scene of the novel is how I imagined my grandmother to be with my mother.

Joni, one of the main characters in The Jade Butterfly, has Alzheimer’s. I believe the inspiration for bringing a dementia disease into my novel was because of my mother’s step-mother. She suffered from dementia at the end of her life. It was heartbreaking to watch my mother care for her. Close to her death, my grandmother didn’t even recognize me. And at times, she struggled to remember my mother.

There are so many levels to caregiving. I think a lot of people will identify with Ellen, Joni’s daughter in the novel. Ellen doesn’t believe she knows how to be a caregiver. And she certainly doesn’t think that she will be good at it. Caregiving is just two words: care and giving. Ellen learns her own way to care for her mother, discovers the life Joni lived before the disease and finds herself, after years of unhappiness.

My greatest hope in writing this novel was for Ellen and the readers of The Jade Butterfly to realize that the people with Alzheimer’s are NOT the disease. They lived vibrant, beautiful lives before their minds started to leave them. Of course, we should honor them where they are at present day, but we should fully celebrate and remember the beautiful life they lived.

Dawn Gardner - The Jade Butterfly

Dawn is an author and a professional photographer. Writing has been in her life from an early age. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Book of
never left her side as a young girl. She writes stories about relationships, family dynamics, suspense and quirky characters. She also has a pretty decent boot collection. In her later years, she is hoping to be known as the Manassas Boot Lady. When she is not writing, she loves traveling, reading, outdoor adventures and hanging out with her husband, family, friends and two dogs.


Instagram: @dawngardnerauthor

Facebook: facebook.com/dawngarderauthor

Twitter: @dawnGauthor

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