I Will Never Forget by Elaine C. Pereira

Posted 22 April, 2014 by Paige in Nonfiction Book Reviews / 0 Comments

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Release Date: May 1st 2012
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Buy the Book: Amazon|B&N|IUniverse
About the Book:
I Will Never Forget is the incredible true story of the author Elaine ’s talented mother’s poignant and often humorous journey through the mystifying haze of Dementia. Through superb stories of Elaine’s childhood, from her controversial name, tales of smoking’ dragons and the feisty teenage years, her mother Betty Ward’s wonderful character is revealed.

Over time, as their relationship evolves and a new paradigm is formed, Betty begins to exhibit goofy actions, uncharacteristic verbal assaults and bizarre thinking. Although clearly mystified by her mother’s irrational behaviors, Elaine does not appreciate the extent of Betty’s mental decline. Her amazing ability to mask the truth clouds Elaine’s vision and prolongs her denial until one cataclysmic explosion of reality over an innocuous drapery rod launches a waterfall of destructive events.

As her mother’s brilliant mind is steadily destroyed by Dementia’s insatiable appetite for brain cells, Elaine accompanies her mother on her journey. She witnesses Betty’s fascinating visions of her own mother, masterful Houdini-like disappearances and finally a stunning rally to take control of her own destiny.

I Will Never Forget is a heartwarming, humorous, honest and deeply moving story pertinent to everyone touched by the insidious effects of Dementia. Learn from Elaine’s unwitting mistakes as she weaves her way through her mother’s unpredictable disease to capture insightful and effective intervention strategies.

Excerpt:
Chapter 1: Christmas Clues and Catastrophes
December 1960
It was a week before Christmas. The tree was in its usual beautiful splendor, although at eight years old, I definitely cared more about what was under the tree than on it. My dad was at work, my older brother Jerry was off somewhere with his friends, and Mom was in the basement doing laundry. With the spies out of the way, I seized the opportunity to investigate my presents.
I huddled under the tree in the back and pressed hard on the top of a box with my name on it. The tissue paper was white, maybe two or three layers thick. The box was light—wide but not very deep. I shook it, but the sounds were vague and did not reveal anything about its contents. Bummer! I tried to remember what I might have put on my Christmas list that could be in a box of this shape and size, but I was stumped. I had to take more serious steps to uncover the prize inside. I pressed down on the top of the box and tried to see if I could unveil any clues.
Something reddish blurred under my fingertips, but I couldn’t make anything out. I slid my finger slowly to the right and pressed down firmly again. This time, a bluish mark like an 1 or an I came through. I kept going to reveal green and yellow marks but nothing very helpful. Hmm. I went back to the red line on the left side and pressed down with the index fingers of both hands. Maybe doubling up would help. It was working, although the paper and box top were crinkling under the pressure of my fingertips. I kept pushing the paper out to the left and the right while also pushing down, and then there it was: an L. So I had an L and an 1 or an I; of course, it was an I. LI …, I pondered. Life! The game. Cool. It wasn’t on my list, but my mom had great gift ideas and I was sure it would be fun. So I had figured out one of the presents; now on to the next. Santa had nothing on me!…
Christmas 2009
My mom was planning to stay at my house for three nights, December 23—26. The first clue that things were a little amiss was when I saw her rummaging through her suitcase. She was “looking for something” but couldn’t tell me what. I saw that she had packed six bras and maybe eight pair of underwear but no extra socks. No problem, I figured. She can borrow some of mine. Okay, so she was a little off on the undies. Also, she had pajamas but no robe. Robes, especially winter ones, were a little bulky to pack, so I loaned one to her, as well as some extra socks.
Then I noticed that her sweater was uncharacteristically dirty. At first I assumed it was stained permanently, but as I scratched my finger over the discolored streak, I realized something brownish was sloughing off in my hand—chocolate. 
“Mom,” I said gently, “this is a little dirty. Maybe I can wash it for you?”
“Sure. You can do my laundry anytime,” she answered.
As the designated laundry fairy, I was on a mission to search for and rescue her dirty clothes. The slacks she was wearing were soiled too. This is so not my mom, I thought. She was a meticulous dresser and never would have gone anywhere with grubby clothes except out in the yard. I organized a laundry coup and started snatching her pants and sweater after she got ready for bed.…
Packing for a short trip to my house was not a new experience for her, nor a difficult one, but clearly she had made several errors. It would not be long before I would be impressed that she had done this well rather than this poorly.…

My Thoughts:
I’m not going to even lie to y’all: when I received a request to review this book I literally cried. Not even kidding. This is a subject very near and dear to my heart- I lost my grandfather in May of 2012 after a battle with Alzheimer’s that started before I was even born. He without a doubt had a very large impact on my life, and before my grandparents moved in with us, we spent every day at their home. Some of my fondest memories have him at the center of them, and as a child you don’t really, truly grasp that there is anything different about your Pappaw and you only know that he loves to tell that same story about that dog he used to take with him when he was driving trucks as a young man before he started working for AK-Steel every single day. Yes, I loved my grandfather very much and so reading this story about someone that went through something similar with there loved one I knew was going to be hard on me.
Let me just say that Elaine beautifully portrayed this journey. From those early times like expressed above in the excerpt where she really didn’t know anything was wrong right on through to where there was no question she did an amazing job showing what a wonderful woman her mother was so that her memory will forever live on. Despite my tears(because I’m an emotional person and I did cry several times throughout), I feel like this book was a great comfort to me and I feel like maybe it would be to anyone else out there who has a loved one going through something like Dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is a terrible thing watching someone go through it. I feel that although Elaine really didn’t sugar coat, she has  this soothing voice that sort of carries you through each page with the small flashbacks seeming like a written picture of what happened with her and her mother. I truly cannot recommend this enough! If I hear of someone who has someone closed to them diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s the first thing I’m going to do is give them a huge hug, and the next thing I’m going to do is buy them this book. 
*I received this book for review from the author, but this in no way affected my thoughts as expressed in this review*

About the Author:
Elaine Pereira retired as a school Occupational Therapist with more than 30 years experience in pediatrics and a decade in adult home care.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Wayne State University in OT and her Master’s in Liberal Arts.  Pereira maintains her OT licensure and holds Certifications as a Dementia Caregiver and Practitioner. She and her husband Joseph live in southeastern Michigan with their two big dogs Bailey and Maddee and Snoopy the cat.  Together they have five adult children, Elaine’s twin daughters and Joe’s three sons and five grandchildren. 
I Will Never Forget-A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia is Elaine’s first book, a memoir in tribute to her amazingly talented mother.  Pereira writes for MariaShriver.com, Alzheimer’s Reading Room, Endear For Alzheimer’s and a variety of guest blog posts.  She has been featured in four television spots, Fox 2 Detroit, Living Dayton and Fox 45 Dayton and The Best of Aging magazine, April 2013 edition. 
Her hobbies include golf, sewing, hand-craft projects and gardening.  She has traveled extensively throughout the United States and world wide including Europe; Madeira, Portugal; Australia; Seoul and Hong Kong.  
Now she networks extensively to advance Alzheimer’s awareness and donates from each book sold to Alzheimer’s research.  
Elaine also does presentations that are customized for each audience and are perfect for Families, Caregivers, Professionals, Organizations, Book Clubs and More. To schedule a presentation please contact her @ elainep@iwillneverforgetbook.com. she  is readily available and offers reasonable rates to fit your budget and needs. If you would like a promotional sheet, have any questions, or want to share anything: please feel free to send her an email!

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