Happy Book-iversary to Reverberations!

Monday was the one-year anniversary of the official launch of my book, REVERBERATIONS: A DAUGHTER’S MEDITATIONS ON ALZHEIMER’S.

The whole world looks a lot different today, in many respects. Pandemic, unprecedented, year of the weird, couldn’t have predicted, etc.

But some things haven’t changed, and I want to talk about some of them.

First: Family. Families may change in their makeup, but the concept of family—people with whom you belong—stays the same. I’m especially grateful to my family, especially my siblings.


It’s difficult to write personal essays at all. It’s especially difficult when you’re writing about family experiences, which other people may (or may not) have shared. My sister and brothers have been as kind and considerate as I could have hoped, letting me say what I believed to be true while keeping their muttering sotto voce. They’ve been kind advocates for the book, too, which I appreciate.


My launch anniversary coincides with a birthday. This year, Pete’s new age ends in 5, so it’s one of the “big ones.” Happy birthday, Pete, and thank you to Lee, Hugh, and especially Sue for your support. And a special thanks to the next generation for being pretty great folks.


I know it’s sophisticated to be “so OVER” Zoom, and I understand it’s fatiguing. Thanks to Zoom, my siblings and I can stay in touch, even though we are no closer in geography than we were last year at this time.


Second: Publishers. Signature Editions helped make this book available to people who need it—people who feel alone because of dementia. Previous versions of several essays appeared in lit journals, and I’m grateful to those whose (often unpaid) work connects writers’ work with readers. Specifically, thank you to Malahat Review, The Grief Diaries, Room, Full Grown People, Prairie Fire, NOWW Magazine, Atticus Review, Pithead Chapel and The New Quarterly.


Third: The Local Writing Community. The Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop has morphed through the years, but its volunteer labour always tries to provide opportunities for writers to learn and share their work with readers.


Many individual writers in greater Thunder Bay provided companionship, prodding, expertise, and a helpful ear. My essays, to say nothing of this book or the launch event itself, wouldn’t have come about without the support of Susan Goldberg, Marianne Jones, Maureen Nadin, Jean E. Pendziwol, Rebekah Skochinski, and Cathi Winslow.


Fourth: the larger community of writers. I learned a lot from joining the Creative Nonfiction Collective, a professional organization for Canadian writers of creative nonfiction. Specifically, at a conference I learned about Susan Olding’s wonderful essay collection, PATHOLOGIES, and her mentorship proved invaluable in my writing journey. And writers are a generous group. Cathie Borrie, who wrote about her own mother’s Alzheimer’s, agreed to read and blurb my book, even though we hadn’t met. That larger community also includes the Canadian arts infrastructure: A grant from the Ontario Arts Council helped me finish this book.


Fifth: The community of people whose lives are touched by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. I especially appreciate AlzAuthors, a clearinghouse of information by people who have dementia and those who love them, in various forms, including a new podcast. Care partners, grandchildren, people with dementia—all people interested in finding an understanding ear can find it there. And if you’re interested in ending stigma around Alzheimer’s and dementia, you can find resources to help you start conversations there, as well.


Sixth: Readers. Probably the most important group of all. People from all of the groups I’ve mentioned have read my work, and I’m grateful for them all. I extend a special thanks to the A to Z Book Club, with whom I met to discuss my work at the invitation of Liz Pszczolko, for donating their copies to the Thunder Bay Public Library. It’s great to know that other book clubs can check out my book and discuss it.


I say this nearly every time I mention my book, because it’s true: writing a book can create connections and conversation. Almost every person I’ve talked with about my collection eventually shares a story about their aunt or grandparent or neighbour. Dementia isn’t going away. We owe it to our elders, and our peers, to learn how best to support them.


Thank you, everyone.