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A Cup of Comfort

By Staff | Nov 12, 2008

The A Cup of Comfort book series contains “refreshingly real stories of extraordinary experiences in ordinary lives,” and the latest collection is themed on caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease.

“True stories are uplifting, even though they are on a serious topic,” declared Jeanne Wilhelm of Muncy, whose Strawberries in January story starts with a conversation she had with her mother one cold January day. “I asked her what she had been up to lately, and she said, “I’ve been picking strawberries…

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder named for German physician Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906. The progressive and fatal disease is recognized today as the most common form of dementia or loss of memory and other mental abilities that interfere with daily life.

There is no cure.

Wilhelm is a retired nurse with experience in hospice and home health. “
I knew what was coming and knew that memory loss was not personal, but it was a loss when my mother did not recognize or remember me,” she said with a sigh. An even more painful blow was when Wilhelm’s father died and her mother did not recognize the man with whom she had lived for 70 years.

That really hurt,” she said.

While dealing with the diagnosis and the events after it were heartbreaking for Wilhelm and her family, she came to realize that the loss of memory was not only a passage to mourn, but also embrace.

In the two years before her death, my mother remembered none of us children, but she also did not recall memories from her past. In fact, her last months were happy ones.

When asked for a few words to comfort those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, Wilhelm said, “
Although it may be difficult to believe at times, the person (with Alzheimer’s) is in “there,” but just lost.

She also had kind words about Debbie, a woman who was very compassionate in dealing with Wilhelm’s mother at a personal care home. Wilhelm admired how Debbie was able to help her mother feel like she was contributing. “
(My mother) came from a generation that needed to feel useful, and she had worked hard all her life. It bothered her that she was not working as she declined.” Wilhelm said Debbie found work for her to do–potatoes to peel, folding towels, or wiping down a kitchen counter.

It was not always as it should be, but it helped my mother feel successful.

The A Cup of Comfort series is published by Adams Media and are collections of stories editors choose from open submissions. Anyone can share a story, but Wilhelm had advice for those striving to get published. “
Writing well is important, but follow the guidelines precisely and learn everything you can about marketing and promoting your work.”

Wilhelm has scheduled the following area book signings and speaking engagements:

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 4-6 p.m., Huntersville Senior Citizens at United Methodist Church, 6000 Rabbittown Road, Muncy; Saturday, Nov. 15, 11-1p.m., Page After Page Bookshop, 336 Market St. Lewisburg; Tuesday, Nov. 18: 12-2 p.m., Elder & Special Needs Resource Center, 401 Washington Blvd.

Williamsport; Thursday, Nov. 20, 7-8 p.m., Muncy Public Library, 108 S. Main Street, Muncy; Saturday, Nov. 22, 1-4 p.m., Borders, Lycoming Mall;

Monday, Dec. 8, 11:30-12 noon, WGRC, 101 Armory Blvd., Lewisburg.