Before My Eyes is a memoir about my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 75. In this book, I share candid and personal reflections as we both struggle with this disease. During the seven years that my mother lived with Alzheimer’s, I found myself striving to remember things as she was quickly forgetting. I found it very therapeutic and hoped it would be helpful to other caregivers if I chronicled our journey in a series of short vignettes. The book started out as a journal or a log of my mother’s progression along with my feelings of loss, and it quickly morphed into short stories tied to real-life experiences. Through these experiences, such as observing an elderly woman and her impatient daughter in a doctor’s office, I would tell my story of how I was impatient with my mother when she asked me out to dinner, a dinner that would have been our last time out together. It’s a story about the losses we experience with Alzheimer’s and all of the “one more times” we could have had.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born and raised in Trenton, NJ and am the youngest of three children. My father died when I was 18 years old. At 22 I left home to enter a convent and remained there for six years. After leaving the convent, I returned to NJ where I reside today. I have a BS degree in Business Administration from Marywood University, Scranton, PA, and I currently work in Finance.
How did you choose the title?
When I was thinking about the cover concept and I realized I had a vintage photo of my mother that I wanted to use, everything else then came together. In this photo, which was from my mother’s wedding album, she is looking at herself in a mirror and is combing her hair. She is getting ready for her wedding. The title then came to me, Before My Eyes! She was literally changing before our eyes.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I always had a love for books which my mother instilled in me. I would no sooner finish reading one book when she would buy me another to read. Or I would go to the public library and walk home with a stack of books. As a child, I would write short stories for school assignments; then I would read to my mother and grandmother, who always praised my writing. They thought the stories were creative and very well-written, and their affirmation encouraged me to keep writing. In college, I had a wonderful English professor who inspired me. We were assigned a writing project for class and had to meet with him one-on-one to be critiqued. My poem, which was in a rhythm similar to Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise, so moved him that I remember him clearly saying that writing is something I should consider pursuing. Many years later, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and I realized that now was the time for all the praise and affirmation of my writing skills to come forth. This story just needed to be told.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I like to read mostly nonfiction but sometimes fiction. I also like metaphysical books which explore the afterlife. My favorite authors are Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston and Elie Wiesel, among a few. I like the passion with which they write, for they have important messages and life lessons to share with humanity.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Follow your passion and your dreams and write about what inspires you. Find a great editor who can critique your work as you go along rather than doing the bulk of the editing at the end. Share some of your writings with friends and ask their feedback.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Readers can find my book, Before My Eyes, on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and iUniverse.com.