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Dealing with an emotional decline

Nancy Paddock, Minnesota poet and author of ‘A Song at Twilight: Of Alzheimer’s and Love,’ is the keynote speaker Friday at Caregivers Expo 2012

May 30, 2012
By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent

In Dream

I look out the kitchen window

of our old St. Paul home.

Snow is falling, and Mom and Dad

are going out together.

As they slowly back out of the garage

in a white convertible,

Dad begins to put its top down.

The roof frame rises, scraping

and catching on the garage door.

Then, sprung, it is forced straight up

in the air.

Oblivious, as the convertible's

fractured roof rocks and breaks free,

Dad continues backing out.

My parents ride off into the storm,

their car filling with snow.

MARSHALL - The above poem is from a dream, said its author, Nancy Paddock of Litchfield, but it symbolizes the sadness and frustration a child feels when a loved one journeys to an often bewildering stage of life for everyone involved.

The poem is included in her new book, "A Song at Twilight Of Alzheimer's and Love: A Memoir," a Blueroad Press book that is now in its second printing. She will be the keynote speaker at Caregivers Expo 2012 which is from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Friday at the Marshall Area YMCA.

In addition to Paddock's presentation, a resource fair, spa room and health screenings will take place, among other activities. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged, but not required.

Call Rosanne at 336-4922 or e-mail

The event is sponsored by One to One Programs/Western Mental Health Center-Expo Committee with support from Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging.

"A Song at Twilight" is a combination of the author's memories - helped by her journal entries that she has kept since she was 13 - her father's letters to her mother during World War II and her transcriptions of her family's taped interviews.

The author tells of her family's happy life living in St. Paul and also writes of her parents' decline and finally having to move to a nursing home.

When Paddock's mother began reminiscing about her travels to Paris, Paddock at first reminded her that she has never been to Paris. After a while, Paddock realized that it was useless to keep correcting her mother.

"That is her truth," she said. "You can go ahead and argue, but she will just keep repeating it."

Paddock said that at Friday's expo she will read passages from the book and answer questions, but "a lot of questions have no answer."

Paddock said Alzheimer's Disease is an epidemic and she doesn't know why it is increasing.

"Maybe it's the chemicals in the environment, the food we eat or that we are simply living longer,"?she said. In the book, she said that the latest research suggests a causation between early trauma or stress that might affect the brain in later years.

Paddock's mother, Lois, had a tough early childhood, often moving from place to place and suffered after her father committed suicide.

Her mother, when she was in a nursing home, says after looking at her wedding photo, "What happened to me?"

Paddock replies, "life happened to you."

Paddock said the "cruelest" thing about Alzheimer's for her mother was that "she always knew she was messed up."

At Paddock's birthday party, Lois says, "I'm ashamed that I forgot your birthday."

In the book Paddock tells her, "Mama, it's no shame if you can't help it."

After visiting her mother in the nursing home, Paddock said, "I would come home and dump it all in the journal."

Paddock said that caregivers need to tend to themselves as well.

"Grief and stress lowers their resistance," she said. "You have to take care of yourself, have fun, take breaks."



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