Tag Archives: books

A bookmark from the past

My dad loved books, but he hated bookmarks.

Even though the library included free ones in every book, Dad insisted upon “dog earing” pages. My mother would nag him about it, saying the books were the library’s property and they probably didn’t appreciate him returning books with creased page corners. But Dad continued to do it, and to be fair, I never heard him getting chewed out at the library about it. Certainly he wasn’t the only person who dog eared books.

bookmark

As I was going through some books and sorting them for donations, I came across one of those library bookmarks. The bookmarks served dual purposes: marking your place in the book and reminding you when the book was due.

The bookmarks, with the sketch of the Downey City Library at the bottom, are so ingrained in my memory, having checked out hundreds of books from the library during my childhood.

The due date on this one was Aug. 29, 1981. I would have just turned 6 the month before. It would’ve almost been time for school to start, as we started just after Labor Day. I would’ve been entering first grade.

What’s even more interesting is that I found the bookmark in an old, worn copy of East and West, a collection of short stories by Somerset Maugham. That book is from the New Orleans Public Library and had a due date of Sept. 2, 1959. (Dad lived for a brief period in the Big Easy.) The next time I visit I may return the book just to see the reaction of the librarian!

Sorting through Dad’s book collection was the ideal task to mark Father’s Day.

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Applying writing wisdom to life as a caregiver

I attended the Atlanta Writers Conference this weekend and learned interesting tidbits about the publishing industry and enjoyed hearing about other writer’s projects.

Raymond L. Atkins, an author and guest speaker at the conference, told about how he handled a situation where the publisher selected a cover image that he felt didn’t fit the plot of his novel. The publishing house wanted to market the book as a mystery, when the author knew his book was a romance.

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The chosen cover featured an ominous barn. The author was puzzled because there was no such building in his book.

The publisher said they knew that, and wanted him to add a barn to the story.

The author didn’t really want to, but according to his signed contract, the matter was out of his hands and at the discretion of the publisher. So he added the darn barn.

Two pages later, that barn burned down.

To me, this was a great example of “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

As caregivers, we may find ourselves following advice we question but feel powerless to challenge. But we always have power over our own actions and our attitude.

Don’t be afraid to burn barns, figuratively speaking, of course!

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What Dad was reading

I came across a receipt for a book that Dad checked out from the library in July 2010. That was just a few months before he became sick and then went to live in the memory care unit of the assisted care facility. His dementia had progressed quite far by this point; he was wandering and unable to accomplish many simple tasks.

The book was “Children of the West: Family Life on the Frontier” by Cathy Luchetti. Despite the disease progression, he picked a book that was in one of his all-time favorite genres: history. It’s a bit of a relief to know he wasn’t checking out unauthorized biographies on Justin Bieber, ha!

Still, I wonder if he actually read any of the book or if he just looked at the photographs. Did he comprehend any of it at all, or was checking out a book just a vaguely familiar task that he still was able to indulge in? I guess I will never know. I do know he never read at the care center he ended up in, at least that I know of. The staff asked us what his hobbies were, and reading and walking were really the only things we could come up with.

Sadly, the ability to read is stripped from many of those afflicted with dementia. So instead, Dad wandered up and down the hallway of his memory care unit, a man who had lost one of the greatest pleasures of his life.

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