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Book details
  • SubGenre:Diseases / Alzheimer's & Dementia
  • Language:English
  • Pages:218
  • eBook ISBN:9780980116571

Love in a Time of Caterpillars

A Memoir of Monarchs and Caregiving

by Allene Symons

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Caring for monarch butterflies helps a wife and her dementia-patient husband endure his affliction, even as she finds solutions to daily challenges and creates ways to rekindle tender moments in their marriage.
When the author's husband Alan started on his downward spiral into dementia, their work with monarch butterfly conservation gave him a perfect distraction and her an antidote for despair. Their emotional connection as a couple continued throughout his unyielding decline, revived by the recurrence of orange-winged visitors. As his caregiver, Allene came up with practical, creative solutions to preserve both his dignity and her own sanity with each new loss. Loving lies, distraction, crafting workarounds, and turning to her dementia support group are some of the ways she maintained a sense of normality. These takeaways are woven throughout the linked memoir essays, which are often tender, sometimes humorous, and occasionally harrowing. Yet above all, this is a love story and the story of a marriage enhanced by a commitment to monarch butterflies. It is also the unfolding drama of a wife's survival, about how she stealthily introduced caregiving help, squeezed out time for herself, and faced a diagnosis of breast cancer and surgery just as Alan lost the ability to recognize her as his wife. Despite all this, and even in the most frustrating and frightening moments of his illness, the author found gifts of gratitude and abundant reasons to celebrate their shared life.
About the author
Allene Symons is a former senior editor for Publishers Weekly magazine. She has written articles, essays, book reviews, and columns for business and consumer magazines and newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. She also worked as a college journalism instructor and in bookstore management, and she is the author of three previous books with traditional publishers. Her most recent is Aldous Huxley's Hands: His Quest for Perception and the Origin and Return of Psychedelic Science (Prometheus Books, 2015). Her other books are Adventures Abroad: Exploring the Travel Retirement Option, co-author with Jane Parker (Gateway Books/Globe Pequot 1991) and Nostradamus, Vagabond Prophet: A Novel of His Life and Time (Avon Books 1983, reissued by Forked Road Press 2011).