Recap: It’s a growing disease and it’s one of the most devastating, not only for victims, but for their families as well: Alzheimer’s Disease. In two books, Cathie Borrie details her experience with the disease, from which her mother was suffering. Borrie recorded many of the conversations she had with her mother, most of which don’t make sense and confuse her mother. But many of them also reveal an underlying layer of wisdom that her mother maintains, despite her memory loss. They also depict Borrie’s commendable patience, frustration, and love for her mother.
Looking Into Your Voice is a transcription of these conversations in poetic form. But The Long Hello incorporates the conversations into an overall story, complete with flashbacks and memories from Cathie’s childhood — allowing the reader to understand what her mother was like before the Alzheimer’s took over.
Analysis: The beauty of these books is again, not just an inside look at Cathie’s mother, the Alzheimer’s patient. But it also shows us how the disease affects Cathie, the caretaker. She gives up her life to care for her mother; there is no man, no job, just a commitment that she’ll be with her mother everyday to make sure she makes it through. Not all caretakers are so generous or willing to make that kind of a commitment, but her conversations show how mentally debilitating the disease can be and often, how necessary it is to have someone with an Alzheimer’s patient at all times. Caring for a person with Alzeheimer’s can take a lot of our of a person, both physically and emotionally.
And as angry and frustrated as Cathie gets — especially when she has to remind her mother that no one is going to take her house away from her — she’s always there. I admire her patience with her mother and those repeated, confusing conversations.
I really enjoyed the way Borrie organized her mother’s quotes and conversations in Looking Into Your Voice. It shows that her mother may not be the same person anymore, but she’s still a mother. She’s still able to give advice — in a nonsensical, yet nurturing way. She’s still able to love her daughter — when she recognizes her. She’s inherently a mother, and that never goes away.
MVP: Cathie. Her selflessness is admirable. Her attitude is mostly positive. And when it’s not, we, as readers, can understand why. As someone who has Alzheimer’s in my family, I know how hard it can be to deal with, and I am envious of Cathie’s patience and tender loving care.