Laura Mansfield Shares Her Journey into Eldercare in “Geezer Stories: The Care and Feeding of Old People”

Mansfield Canva

By Laura Mansfield

Suddenly, five years ago, my world fell apart as my parents tumbled headfirst into old age. It was a pivotal time in my life. I was remarrying after a decade of being a single parent. My son was leaving the nest, starting college, while a special-needs stepson was landing unsteadily in my new nest. I was leaving my successful career at a high-powered advertising agency to start my own consulting business, which would allow me greater flexibility to care for my parents, my new family, and to watch over my son as he spread his wings into early adulthood.

It seemed doable. I was living the life of my generation—Gen T—the Taffy Generation, because “sandwich” just doesn’t cut the mustard. My friends and I are pulled like saltwater taffy as we have children later, our parents live longer, and we blend families in non-traditional ways. We’ve long since quit believing in the myth of work-life balance.

Untitled designI started writing about my journey into eldercare on Facebook in what I called #GeezerUpdates. The Facebook posts quickly gained traction and morphed into a blog at geezerstories.com and ultimately a book—my bittersweet memoir, Geezer Stories: The Care and Feeding of Old People.

There’s no how-to manual for taking care of old folks. We’re all flying blind here as our parents slide into their second childhoods. My book has a bite to it, with a backward glance at my own childhood. It’s a survival story about how to persevere in the face of inevitable hardship. It’s about choosing to age gracefully, despite the pain and the pathos. As my father, aka DooDaddy, famously said, “Growing old is not for the faint of heart.”

Over the past five years, my second marriage failed, my business faltered, and my son lost his way, as I found myself torn apart by the seemingly endless demands of caregiving. I moved three times and changed jobs four times, ultimately ending up back with the agency I left five years ago. And I lost both my parents agonizingly to cancer, which they faced with courage and dignity. My son graduated from college and has become his own person. My life has come full circle.

One of the many blessings of this tumultuous time was my father holding court at my Geezer Stories launch party. He had read the book—which was not always kind to him—three times. He could no longer walk or stand or even sign his name. I had a stamp made of his iconic scrawling signature, which he gamely stamped on each copy as he shook hands and gregariously greeted his fans that afternoon at Union Ave Books. It was a triumph. We sold out. It was DooDaddy’s last public outing. Continue reading

New Release Spotlight: “Friends of the Library,” Short Stories from Susan Cushman

new release spotlight

Susan Cushman is one of my friends in AlzAuthors. Her novel, Tangles and Plaques, tells the story of her mother’s years with Alzheimer’s. This book is a collection of short stories.

Friends of the Library is a love letter to southern readers and writers that also manages to tackle serious social issues. In a world of Twitter and twaddle, Susan Cushman gives us a timely reminder of the simple pleasures of your local library. Find this book and check it out!” Jim Dees, author of The Statue and the Fury and host of the Thacker Mountain Radio Show

 

Friends of libraryBook Description

When Adele Covington becomes an author in her sixties, she goes on a book tour to speak to the Friends of the Library groups in ten small towns in her home state of Mississippi. Chasing her personal demons through the Christ-haunted South of  her childhood, Adele befriends an eclectic group of wounded people and decides to tell their stories. From Eupora to Meridian, from a budding artist with an abusive husband to a seven-year-old with a rare form of cancer, each story contains elements of hope and healing and honors the heart, soul, and history of the Magnolia State. Preorder Now!

 

About the Author

Cushman Author Photo high resSUSAN CUSHMAN returned to her native state of Mississippi to speak at Friends of the Library groups in ten small towns in 2017-18, including Oxford, where she had previously studied at the University of Mississippi. Those visits and the people she met inspired the stories in this, her fifth book. Her previously published books include: Cherry Bomb (a novel), Tangles and Plaques: A Mother and Daughter Face Alzheimer’s (a memoir), and two anthologies, A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be, and Southern Writers on Writing. She was co-director of the 2010 and 2013 Creative Nonfiction Conferences in Oxford (MS) and director of the Memphis Creative Nonfiction Conference in 2011. She has spoken at numerous literary festivals, conferences, and workshops in eight states. Susan lives in Memphis with her husband of 49 years.

Connect with Susan Cushman

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email:  sjcushman@gmail.com

Mother-Daughter Team Collaborate on Alzheimer’s Caregiving Guide “If Only You Would Ask: A Guide to Spending Quality Time with the Elderly”

Sometimes questions about ‘food’ or ‘vacations’ or ‘school days’ will ignite a memory, creating a source of comfort and delight

For five years, Joan Berger Bachman and her 92-year-old mother, Eileen Opatz Berger teamed up to write, If Only You Would Ask, A Guide to Spending Quality Conversation with the Elderly. This easy-to- use book is a conversational resource, a manual and a tool for all those who struggle to carry on meaningful, enjoyable conversations. How did this book come about?

Here’s Joan’s Story:

When my father-in-law Bill was nearing the end of his life, I would visit him quite regularly. He had made the decision to stay in his own home until the end. Winters in Minnesota are long, cold and lonely, especially for someone who is afraid and/or unable to venture out. Being the dutiful daughter-in-law that I was, I felt compelled to make the 100-mile drive from Rochester to St. Paul to visit him. We would sit at his kitchen table, and I would tell him about what the kids were up to… and what I had been doing. His major topic of conversation was the rabbits he saw as he stared for hours out the back window of his house.

During this time, I shared with my mother how difficult visits with Bill were becoming. He had so little to share, and I wondered if the visits even mattered. Continue reading

“The Story of AlzAuthors,” or “How 3 Daughters of Dementia Started a Global Community of Authors Sharing their Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiving Stories”

The Story of AlzAuthors

Join me as I tell the story of AlzAuthors, the global community of authors sharing their Alzheimer’s and dementia stories to light the way for others, on Friday, June 21st at 2 pm at Middletown Thrall Library, Middletown, New York. This is my fundraising and awareness effort for the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day, an annual event. You can read more about my personal Alzheimer’s story on my Longest Day Participant Page. 

eReader BHAfter publication of my novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story,  I reached out to two other authors I met online who also published books on this deeply stigmatized subject. What happened next was totally unexpected: We created a movement that includes 200+ authors, a website, bookstore, anthologies, community outreach, and more. Our mission: To bring carefully vetted books and blogs to caregivers and others concerned about Alzheimer’s and dementia and to break through the silence that often accompanies these diseases.

Sharing our stories makes us strong, but sadly too many of those with dementia and their loved ones caring for them are isolated, as shame and stigma often prevent them from disclosing their diagnosis. My  presentation will include a discussion on the power of telling our stories to make change – personally, globally, and legislatively – and how those overcoming or facing dementia and its caregiving can tell their own stories. Continue reading

Father’s Day Memories: My Dad Left Us the Blueprint for How to Be a Great Dad

blueprint for a great dad

Celebrating Father’s Day is bittersweet for me because I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my own father at the tender age of 15. He suffered a heart attack at home one lazy Sunday morning and life was never the same. Ted “Bunky” Kasica was a good man,  and my brothers, mother, and I keenly felt his loss. It’s been 43 years, and I don’t believe any of us ever got over it. In his short life, he left us with many gifts, most importantly a blueprint for what makes a man a great father.

Dad was the 11th of twelve children born to Polish immigrants in South Boston. His own father unexpectedly died when he was just three years old. He never finished high school, but enlisted in the United States Army where he served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. In spite of his humble roots, his early life was one grand adventure. The Army took him out of Boston and stationed him in Germany and Austria for years. His love for that life is clearly documented in the few photographs I have of him as a young soldier: Parachuting out of airplanes, skiing in Austria, and competing as an amateur lightweight boxer.

Once home from the Army he soon met my mother and fell in love, married, and settled down at the age of 28 to a quiet life as a cabinetmaker, with four children, a mortgage, and an ailing heart. Continue reading

Great Summer Reads Book Tour: “The Immundus,” YA Dystopian Fiction from Christina Enquist

Book Description

Would you sacrifice your humanity to save mankind?

IT’S THE YEAR 2828, and Domus is the last remaining country. Divided into twelve walled cities known as genuses, Domus spans what’s known as the purist lands—lands unaffected by the genetic modifications that killed all other species of mammals. But outside the walls of each genus the Immundus threaten the welfare of those within. From a young age, all citizens of Domus are trained for combat against these intruders.

At sixteen, Nia Luna knows little of the Immundus, except for the citywide alarms that ring any time an Immundus nears the genus walls. What she does know is that her own species is dying—their numbers dwindling as a mysterious disease called allagine kills many before their eleventh birthday. The same disease that ravaged her family when it took her sister.

When Nia is recruited into Genesis, a research company pioneering the path to a cure, she knows that her dream to find a cure for allagine is finally within her grasp. But within weeks of starting at Genesis, Nia witnesses something she shouldn’t have—something that changes everything. As she sets down a dangerous path that uncovers national secrets, Nia will have to decide not only what kind of person she wants to be but also how far she’s willing to go to save humanity.

Purchase The Immundus Universal Amazon Link ~  B&N ~ IndieBound ~

Q&A With the Author Continue reading

Great Summer Reads Book Tour! “Daisies in the Driveway” by Lauraine Henderson

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Book Description

Allison Lockwood and Gavin Hunt have been offered the chance to take over the Lazy Daisy Inn and Campground so their respective grandparents, the current owners, can retire and marry. It seems all too easy for Ally and Gavin to prove themselves during the six-month probationary period until they’re fighting disasters at the campground and failing at over-optimistic baking expectations.

As Ally and Gavin slowly explore their growing attraction, they help each other fight fires, endure raging storms, and share a few passionate kisses. But there’s more than fires to fight when Ally’s grandfather disapproves of their budding romance and Ally is convinced Gavin has a girlfriend in the wings…a girlfriend expecting his baby!

Ride along as the two unlikely innkeepers figure out how they fit in their new life and learn the lesson taught by the Daisies in the Driveway.

Purchase Daisies in the Driveway

Q&A With the Author Continue reading