Dementia: A Love Story
by Stephen Lewis
Mission Point Press

"When those sounds stop, when she goes into a quiet sleep, that looming future presses itself into my consciousness with unrelenting force. I wait for her to again call my name."

This heartbreaking, carefully crafted memoir tells a remarkable story of love and resilience in the face of inexorably progressing, early-onset dementia. When Lewis' wife, Carol, was diagnosed at sixty-four, he became her primary caregiver. He narrates her painful, steady decline, beginning with memory lapses, impaired mobility, and eventual progression to language loss, helplessness, and death. Along the way, Lewis recounts various therapeutic interventions, effects on the family, difficult holiday celebrations, as well as day-to-day struggles with activities most people take for granted. Interwoven with these intimate details is a history of their lives before the disease began to steal his wife away, providing a rich account of the complex, intellectual, layered woman who is slowly disappearing.

Author Lewis is an emeritus professor of English, with several novels and textbooks to his name. His facility with language and storytelling greatly enriches the memoir. Indeed, his skill is immediately apparent in the first sentence of the foreword: "I lean over the hospital bed on which lies my wife Carol." This line not only draws the reader in but also sums up the book's plot and emotional landscape. Originating from blog entries, the memoir preserves the episodic, journal-like tone of that genre even as Lewis expands on it with a thoughtful examination of the emotional toll exacted by his caretaking responsibilities. For example, at one point he meditates on T.S. Eliot's famous line "April is the cruelest month," applying its paradoxes to the complexities of his lived experience. Well-chosen photographs of the couple add to the book's emotional resonance. In the end, this memoir's emotional honesty and intelligence convey a powerful and much-needed message to anyone slowly losing a loved one to dementia: you are not alone.

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