Karen Malena’s Memoir, A Bushel and a Peck


Bushel-Peck-Karen-MalenaBy Karen Malena

While visiting the charming town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, a story idea came to me at a bed and breakfast one evening. I’d been thinking about my husband’s aunt and uncle who were both in the same care facility. I watched Uncle Hubert show a tender love to the woman who was still his beautiful bride. Even though they didn’t share the same room, he was always there for any of her needs. His love ran deep and wide. I compared it to my parents, whose love had withstood many trials through their lives. My mother had been showing signs of Alzheimer’s type dementia for a few years. Dad couldn’t have been kinder to her. That idea grew to a fictional book, Love Woven in Time, focusing on love in the golden years between two people who might meet in an independent living center.

I began to find several ladies who had bravely told their own “true” stories of parents who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Would I ever be able to do that? Especially since it felt to me like I would be betraying my mother. She’d not only had Alzheimer’s in her seventies, but in her late twenties and early thirties, Mom had such severe depression that she went through a mental breakdown. Could I tell our family story in an honest way? What purpose would it serve?

I lost my parents within nine months of one another only four years ago. Even though he’d been a heart patient and was slowing down, my father took such special care of Mom during her time with Alzheimer’s. Patient and loving, he became more devoted to her than ever. He was a hero to me; and theirs was a truly special love.

As I began to journal my emotions, the words began to flow more easily. I remembered the times in my childhood living with all of the fear that my mother would never be well from her precarious mental state. I had lived with such sadness and insecurity, but then when my mother returned after a lengthy hospital stay whole and healed, she had shown our family such a strong side that I learned more from her later than in my early years.

Bushel and a Peck was born out of the testimony of the survivor, me, the little girl who’d carried loads of anxiety. It became a healing balm to me to write after losing my parents. Yes, what if their story shed to light the stigma of mental illness and the tragedy of Alzheimer’s through the eyes of the daughter who had adored her parents? What if others could benefit from all of the trials we had gone through—the unconditional healing love?

I’ve heard that several people bought Bushel and a Peck for someone they know–someone who was grieving, as my tale not only touches on Alzheimer’s and the hole it leaves in our lives, but also the grieving process of losing two beloved parents so closely to one another. My memoir explains how faith and a miracle or two brought peace, healing, and a deep understanding of trusting in God’s will especially during the most difficult moments of my life.


Karen Malena has been active mentoring young writers, speaking at local libraries, schools, and care facilities. Recently she became a member of AlzAuthors, a loving community of writers dedicated to encouraging caregivers and family members of loved ones with  dementia and Alzheimer’s. Karen is a passionate advocate for the elderly. Her walk with God has given her the inspiration to blog about losing her parents and their family’s journey from grief to healing and other heartfelt, encouraging tales.

Several of Karen’s stories were recently chosen by Guidepost’s sister magazines for publication. “The Earrings” appeared in Mysterious Ways magazine, “The Memory Blanket,” in Angels on Earth, and “Merry Christmas Mom and Dad,” as well as a few others.

Connect with Karen here:









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