Letters to My Aunt: An Alzheimer's Chronicle
Penny A. Petersen


How I Came to Give Birth to this Book about My Mother & Me:

Many people who have read my book wonder if I wrote the letters with the intent of publishing a book. NO! When I began writing letters about my mother's condition, it was because the two sisters had lived within two miles of each other for almost 20 years and had worked together daily. When Mom decided to move to Arizona, Janet was seperated from her only sister and one of the most important people in her life. I began writing weekly letters when I first took Mom to the Mayo Clinic for a diagnosis. For the entire five year period the letters served as an update on Shirley's condition as well as a way for me to share the grief, humor and decision making involved in being the primary caregiver for a person with Alzheimer's disease. After two years and over 125 letters, my aunt, who had been a professional journalist, suggested the book. She said, "It might help someone else and your mother would have liked that." My response was to laugh. I had sent her the letters and so no longer had them. "But I do," she said. "I've kept them all." She sent them back to me. Over the next two years, I entered the old letters into my computer as well as writing new ones. A year after my mother's death, I finally was able to go back and sort, edit and compile those used in the book. It was much like giving birth and greiving at the same time. Greiving is a long process for family of Alzheimer's victims. If my book can help people to not feel alone, then it was worth all the effort.

The author, Penny Albright Petersen

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