A writing couple searches for answers when Alzheimer's causes one of them to lose the place where stories come from — memory.
At the age of fifty-three, Tony walks away from a life of journalism and into an unknown future. June is forty-eight, a writer and teacher, and over the following decade watches as her husband changes — in interests, goals, and behaviour — until Tony has a fall, ending the life they had known.
A diagnosis is seven years away, yet the signs of Alzheimer’s are all around. A suitcase Tony packs for a trip is jammed with four umbrellas, a visual symbol of cognitive looping. But how far back do these signs go? The couple starts probing the past and finding answers. This is not an old person’s disease.
Novelist Hutton (Underground) and her journalist husband, Wanless, chronicle in this poignant and devastating memoir the crushing toll Wanless's early-onset Alzheimer's diagnosis had on their lives. After Wanless left his job as a newspaper reporter to work as a freelancer at age 52, Hutton noticed something was wrong with Wanless after he started to do things like leave stove-top burners on for hours unattended, put out his cigars in plants, and start small fires. Then, after a fall and a trip to the emergency room, he became increasingly forgetful. A harrowing seven-year odyssey followed, filled with medical exams and memory tests that ultimately confirmed early-stage Alzheimer's disease. From here, the decline is quick and steep as Wanless experiences more symptoms to the point where he had trouble with "basic functions like word recall, mathematics and even handwriting." The memoir skillfully weaves reflective emails from Wanless to Hutton into the narrative, allowing readers to witness step by painful step, the impact of the "long, slow fade" the disease imparts. Readers will find this insightful look into existence with this life-altering disease both educational and inspiring.