It may not be a Pulitzer, but The Reluctant Caregiver earned a gold medal at the 2018 Independent Publisher Awards.
I know my parents would be proud of me, though maybe not so thrilled about what I wrote about them.
The award was a pleasant surprise. I entered a handful of book contests after the publication of The Reluctant Caregiver last year. The Independent Publisher Awards, better knows as the IPPY’s, is well-known, having been around 22 years. The award ceremony will take place on May 29 in New York City and I’m going to fly up for the day to attend the ceremony and hopefully track down a few of my dad’s old haunts.
There are some people who feel these contests are a waste of time and money. I understand the concerns and some are valid, but I choose contests to enter where I would appreciate the prize, even if it isn’t money. For self-published authors like myself, every bit of promotion is worth, ahem, gold.
If you want to learn more about The Reluctant Caregiver, you can visit my website, joyjohnston.com.
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.
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.
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.