Meet Paul Toolan, Author of “A View From Memory Hill,” a Collection of Short Stories on Memory, the Past, Ageing, and Loneliness

By Paul Toolan

I live in an English rural village with a demographic weighted towards retirees. I’m one of them, I suppose.

There are young people too, but older bodies tend to fill the shops and the midday streets. I find myself reflecting on these sometimes solitary folk, about their past lives and the people they’ve known. Have they forgotten more than they care to remember – or just forgotten?

The stories in A View from Memory Hill were triggered by such images, nudged along by Kierkegaard’s idea that we live life forward but only really understand it backwards. Their settings come from the everyday world – a chemist’s shop, a village square, a railway station, a College, a pub, the bus journey from work to home – as well as real places. In the first and last stories in the book I used local outdoor settings. The title story is based on Ham Hill, an ancient hill fort in Somerset which I often visit. I take photographs to help me remember!

For perspective, I introduced younger voices too, and enjoyed exploring that sometimes-land of modern misunderstanding, where the old and the young coincide. A range of characters evolved, and broad themes firmed up as I continued to write: memory, the past, ageing, and loneliness – and the positive antidote of choosing to take action to avoid being lonely.

eCover-MemoryHill (1)For structure, I opened and closed the 12 stories with the same pair of characters: Jack – who has Alzheimer’s – and Maeve, his wife.  I guess they are distillations of various articles and documentaries I’d read and seen about dementia, and about Alzheimer’s in particular. Maeve has become Jack’s carer. Alzheimer’s couples may recognise her predicament:

“Jack was sleeping on the day-bed she’d rigged up in the conservatory. When he was bad, any sleep would do. She was Jack’s dictionary now, non-stop, exhausting, the reference book for all the objects, all the people he could no longer name. The butt, too, of each resulting outburst.

‘Do you know nothing?’ he would yell. ‘Nothing?’”

Despite Jack and Maeve’s difficulties, memory still breaks through, and with it, joy and laughter.

In between, the other stories explore the book’s themes through a range of genres, including crime, social satire, gothic noir, and romance, to give a variety of reader experiences.

So far, reviewers have enjoyed these “wonderful insights on ageing”.

“I felt nostalgic when I finished reading,” said one reviewer. “Where have the years gone? So many memories had me a bit emotional, truthfully.”

For me, if I’ve triggered emotion and insight in my readers, on such important themes, then I’m a happy man.

 

Purchase A View from Memory Hill

About the AuthorAuthor photo cropped.jpg

Paul Toolan hails from the United Kingdom, a Northerner who now cheerfully admits being a southern softie living in rural Somerset. After a successful career in Colleges and Universities he wrote book/lyrics for stage musicals, before “turning to crime.”  A Killing Tree and A January Killing, the first two books in the Detective Inspector Zig Batten series, are set in the apple orchard landscape of the West of England. Look out for the third, An Easter Killing. A View from Memory Hill is Paul’s first short story collection, exploring themes of ageing, memory, and personal realisation. Like Inspector Batten, Paul enjoys walking, gardens, fishing, music and the occasional whisky. Unlike him, he enjoys sport and the taste of mushrooms, and loves travelling to sunnier climes – Greece in particular.

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Meet Vicki Kaufmann, Author of “Elegy for Mom, A Memoir of Family Caregiving, Alzheimer’s, and Devotion”

Elegy-for-Mom_BookCvrBy Vicki Kaufmann, MA, MPSt

“Cobwebs in my mind!” was how my mother depicted the disease that ravaged her brain. Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia in May 2000, after episodes of TIA’s and early signs of dementia. She was 82 years of age. This was a major turning point in the life of our family. For me, it was the birth of a challenging new creative phase. Continue reading “Meet Vicki Kaufmann, Author of “Elegy for Mom, A Memoir of Family Caregiving, Alzheimer’s, and Devotion””

Meet Linda Brendle, Author of “A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos”

lbrendle_a2The Accidental Author

by Linda Brendle

My goal in life was not to become a writer. I enjoyed writing when I was younger, and I toyed with the idea of making a career of it until I received my first negative review from an English teacher. I don’t take criticism very well, and I took her comments personally. Years later, though, after the sting of her rejection had faded, and especially when I became a caregiver, the need to express myself resurfaced.

Continue reading “Meet Linda Brendle, Author of “A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos””

Meet Meg Foster, author of “7 Spiritual Steps for Caregivers: A Path to Meaning and Hope in Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiving”

1st 7 Spiritual Steps for Caregivers

7 Spiritual Steps – A Journal to Ease the Way

By Meg Foster

According to Alzheimer’s International, globally, there are nearly 44 million people that have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.

In America alone, there are 5.3 million living with Alzheimer’s disease. 74% of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias reported that they were “somewhat concerned” to “very concerned” about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.

Certainly these caregivers and their loved ones are in a health care crisis. Continue reading “Meet Meg Foster, author of “7 Spiritual Steps for Caregivers: A Path to Meaning and Hope in Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiving””

Welcome back, Joy Johnston, author of “The Reluctant Caregiver”

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]By Joy Johnston

Not everyone is born a natural caregiver.

Unlike some caregivers who can draw upon their experience as a parent or time spent taking care of siblings when they were younger, I had no such reservoir of caregiving knowledge when my parents fell ill. Continue reading “Welcome back, Joy Johnston, author of “The Reluctant Caregiver””

Meet Linda Jenkins, Author of “To Helen With Love: A Memoir of a Daughter’s Caregiving Journey”

Cover To Helen With Love_By Linda Jenkins

After five years in the making, writing this memoir has been one of the most intense endeavors I’ve ever taken on, but well worth it.

While I was writing this memoir I discovered how much pain I still had deep inside of me. Pain from some of the experiences. Pain from not knowing what or how to deal with dementia. Pain of not understanding what caregiving entails. Pain from dealing with the healthcare field. Finally, pain when it’s all over. Continue reading “Meet Linda Jenkins, Author of “To Helen With Love: A Memoir of a Daughter’s Caregiving Journey””

Meet Rick Lauber, author of “The Successful Caregiver’s Guide” and “The Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians”

successful caregiver guide2By Rick Lauber

What motivates a writer to write a book? It could be to share a story, educate/help the reader, or to entertain. I wrote both my books to support readers, raise awareness for a growing issue, increase understanding, and also to personally cope. Continue reading “Meet Rick Lauber, author of “The Successful Caregiver’s Guide” and “The Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians””

Mary Ann Drummond Shares Grandma and Me – A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

By Mary Ann Drummond

Nearly five years ago, after presenting at an Alzheimer’s caregiver conference, a seed was planted in my heart to write a children’s book about Alzheimer’s and dementia. When the conference was over one of the attendees came up to purchase one of my books. As she was leaving she asked if I could recommend a book to help her young child with the changes her family was experiencing since her mother was diagnosed with dementia. I was at a loss. I had been so focused on education for adults that I had not researched current literature for children.

Continue reading “Mary Ann Drummond Shares Grandma and Me – A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia”

Meet Bobbi Carducci, author of “Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver”

Caregiver CoverPrintBy Bobbi Carducci

“What’s going to happen to Rodger?’ was the first thing most people asked upon hearing of my mother-in-law’s passing.  Extremely introverted, unable to drive, and not in good health, he’d been dependent on her to care for everything it took to run a home for many years. Fortunately my husband and I had talked about taking in one of our parents when and if the time came. We had both the room and the desire to do it. We knew it would be hard at times, but were convinced we would make it work. Continue reading “Meet Bobbi Carducci, author of “Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver””

Meet blogger, Amie McGraham “Taking Care”

IMG_2283LIFE, REPURPOSED

By Amie McGraham

The year I turned fifty, I transitioned from a successful thirty-year sales and marketing career to the role of primary caregiver for my mother, returning to the island home of my childhood three thousand miles away. Mom has had Alzheimer’s for the past few years and, while she’s aware that she’s slowly slipping away, refuses to recognize this because of her religious beliefs. Disease of any type is a topic we never talk about. For her, to acknowledge dementia would be to admit that disease is real: that God’s plan has been altered. Continue reading “Meet blogger, Amie McGraham “Taking Care””