Marlene Jaxon Writes About Engaging Her Mother Until the End in Jinxed

About Marlene Jaxon Jinxed

Jinxed - Marlene Jackson

By Marlene Jaxon

A story was patiently waiting to be written, but I was aware of neither it nor its importance. The fallout needed to dissipate, and my mental dust needed to settle first. Both had obscured my emotions and perspective. Three years after my mother’s passing, a persistent voice began to pester me. What is the best way to help others with all you’ve learned from your experience?

Initially, I had contemplated creating a handy “How-to” guide, brimming with dementia facts and caregiver tips. I proposed the idea to my husband of forty years and my twenty-seven year-old daughter after dinner one evening. They both agreed I had something valuable to share but my insightful offspring loudly protested the impersonal nature of my intention. “No, not a manual Mom! The creative things you did with grandma were extraordinary and unique. Our time caring for her as a family is a treasured experience. You need to share all of that. If you really want to help people, that’s the way to do it. Tell that story.”

Upon further consideration, I realized my kiddo was 100% right. When did she get to be such a little smarty-pants, anyway? So much wiser than her years. The book’s title was obvious to me right from day one: Jinxed! Laughing in the Face of Alzheimer’s. My mother (whose lifelong nickname was Jinx) and I had laughed together more in the years I spent as her caregiver than during any other time in my adult memory. She got the biggest kick out of the comical voices I used to soothe her fears and prompt her cooperation; my silliness incited her own. Wacky dancing and singing usually ensued. And the family trip we took to Disneyland in her final years – although not memorable to her – was a laugh-filled adventure we’ll never forget. The logistical difficulties of traveling with a dementia patient were by far outweighed by the delight Mom displayed as she enjoyed the wonders of “The Happiest Place on Earth” wearing her pink, princess Minnie Mouse ears. I had a suspicion such lovely caregiver experiences were uncommon, so I enthusiastically committed my energy to writing our story – with no idea what awaited me.

It didn’t take long for my idealistic expectations to collide with hard reality. Each day while writing, my laptop became my “shrink” and the chair my psychiatrist couch, as I relived the years with Mom. “And how did you feel about that?” was a tough question I asked myself almost daily and struggled to answer. Articulating past events into words – with clarity and honesty – meant unearthing and examining not only my own feelings but those of my family members. The intense two-year-long psychotherapy session was an enlightening process, to be sure. With an equal amount of alternating smiles and tears, it proved to be an excruciatingly emotional experience for me and for my daughter as well, since she edited the book.

Ultimately, sharing the story of Jinx’s journey proved to be a beautifully rewarding one. The generous, positive feedback I’ve received from readers has been overwhelmingly heart-warming and humbling. The genuine gratitude and blessings they’ve bestowed upon me for helping them motivates me to try to reach as many people as possible with my book. The honesty and the humor of Jinxed! seems to be what touches them the most. They are comforted by the shared human experience which breaks down all barriers and lets them know they’re not alone, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s nothing to hide. And when someone says I’ve inspired them to look for ways to add laughter to the life of the loved one in their care, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Uplifting others through Mom’s story brings important meaning to the cruel end of her life; making it neither senseless nor in vain.



Marlene resides with her husband in Arizona, in a house they designed and built together 27 years ago – along with their melodious  miniature schnauzer, Roxanne. She is the proud mother of a treasured daughter and wonderful, new son-in-law. Although there are many aspects of Arizona to appreciate, the New Jersey native will always have ocean water in her soul and prefers to spend as much time as possible by the sea, in her adopted home state of California. Besides writing, her interests include sailing, world travel, hiking, archery, playing piano and guitar.


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3 Responses

  1. My mum was the serious one growing up, but we’ve had more silliness and laughing during her seven years with Alzheimer’s than the lifetime of knowing her. She has moments when she laughs and giggles until tears roll down her cheeks. These moments are priceless.

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