WHEN Anne Sherry’s husband first began to show the signs of dementia she had no idea what was wrong.
“I now realise that John began to show signs of dementia long before he was diagnosed,” says the writer and management consultant from Winchester.
“He was a lovely man, my ideal husband, bright, kind, considerate and very funny, often as mad as a hatter. But then he changed. It was almost as if he had given up.
“He was such a fine engineer, brilliant at DIY; then he seemed to lose interest. His behaviour became completely out of character. Of course this led to arguments between us and sadly we had begun a trial separation by the time we discovered the reason behind the behaviour changes.
“It was always meant to be temporary, but by the time he was diagnosed he was living in sheltered accommodation, and because he was happy there we stuck with the arrangement. It was an incredibly difficult time.”
Sadly John died with dementia.
To help her deal with her grief, Anne, a professional travel writer, turned back to her pen.
She has woven poems, prose, prose poems and journal extracts into a moving book, Safe Passage: A Memoir in Poetry and Prose, which charts the highs and lows of her life with and without her late husband, John.
Profits from book sales will be donated to Alzheimer’s Research UK. Anne has also written about the process of creating the book for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s blog, dementiablog.org, which features an extract from the book.
“When I started collating for the book I realised there were big gaps in the chronology,” says Anne.
Happier times: Anne and John on their wedding day
“It was also unremittingly sad. Yet our good times were anything but. So I mined old travel journals for the essence of our early years.
“Writing about our travels was an absolute delight; in writing I was re-living them. Writing about the separation was incredibly painful, but in many ways it was therapeutic and it’s given me some kind of closure.
“Even in the blackest times there were moments of joy and laughter. I really produced the book for myself, for friends and family and, of course, for John. It was only later that I thought about publicising it more widely. I hope that in raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK I can do something to help defeat this dreadful condition.”
“Anne’s story is an incredibly moving one,” says Miranda Johnson, head of corporate and community fundraising at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“Many others, like Anne, whose lives have been touched by dementia, will know the strain the condition can put on families as their loved ones decline. We’re delighted that Anne has chosen to help raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK – every £20 raised is enough to pay for another hour of research, helping to bring about better outcomes for people with dementia.
“Dementia affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, including more than 15,000 people in Hampshire alone. We owe it to those people to continue investing in research, but funding still lags behind that of other serious diseases. We rely on public donations to be able to fund our research, and it’s thanks to wonderful supporters like Anne that we’re able to continue our work.”
- To buy a copy of Safe Passage: A Memoir in Poetry and Prose, visit cpibookdelivery.com and search for Safe Passage. To learn more about raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0300 111 5 666 or visit their website, alzheimersresearchuk.org