Death doesn’t care who you are, where you live, what you look like, how much money you have. It’s an equal opportunity destroyer—it’s going to get us all in the end.
My Father, Humming is about life, and about death. It appeals to everyone: urban teenagers as well as suburban ones, thinking about their grandparents with Alzheimer’s; young adults in their twenties too.
For adults in their 30s, 40s, 50s, it’s more about their parents having Alzheimer’s, their aunts and uncles. For older adults, it’s about their spouses, their siblings, their friends.
People everywhere relate to the book—on the island of Maui; on the island of Jamaica; in Nigeria; in Hartford (the fourth poorest city in the country); in Simsbury, Connecticut (a wealthy suburb); in Los Angeles; New York; Baltimore; Washington; Minneapolis; Lincoln, Nebraska.
Everyone needs bereavement help. Everyone needs support when dealing with the death of a friend or family member. Losing a loved one will happen to everyone.
Everywhere, there are people who know other people with Alzheimer’s, or who have lost a loved one to something out of their control. This book speaks to them.
Having someone close to you develop dementia or Alzheimer’s is a slap in the face. It’s not something you planned for, or expected.
If it’s a spouse—well, yes, we agreed to “in sickness or in health”—but we thought that meant a cold, maybe the flu, even a broken bone. But not like that. That’s not the person we married.
And what about a parent getting Alzheimer’s? No one told us it’d be like this. Our own children, when they were babies—sure, we knew that’s what babies were—we did sign up for that. But our parents being babies, before our eyes … that is something unimaginable, entirely.
They did that for us, didn’t they, just the way we did it for our children?
No one told us we’d have to do it for them too. Did they?
We don’t expect to have to cope with grief. I know I certainly didn’t anticipate writing memorial poems about my father; even while he was alive, no one prepared me for emotional toll that dementia takes on a parent.