My Family's Story
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Nana Speaks Nanese is the book I wish I'd had when Mom moved in.
Two weeks after my son turned three, my parents moved in with us so we could help care for my mother, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The next six months were the most difficult of my life.
Trying to parent a three-year-old is hard enough; trying to parent a parent at the same time was heartbreaking.
I searched for a picture book that would help us explain to my son what was going on. No luck. So we came up with some pretty creative ways to explain things on our own. We were winging it, but it seemed to help. When my husband and I went to a family therapist for guidance, even she was impressed by some of our strategies.
A lightbulb went off: I was going to have to write the picture book myself. Only of course I couldn’t; I was living it. It was all I could do to get everyone dressed in the morning.
My mother lived with us for three years, and when it was no longer safe for her to be at home, she lived another two in a nursing home that specialized in dementia. After she died, it took an additional seven years for me to get the distance I needed to be able to write Nana Speaks Nanese.
I have dedicated the book to my mother, Joan, and my son, Matthew, who always remembered the love.
I found a marvelous illustrator, Maurício Corteletti Água Viva, who captured the warmth of the story and the love the characters have for each other. He worked for months on the illustrations. It all came together.
Nana Speaks Nanese was published on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019. I hope it helps other families going through this devastating diagnosis.