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Archive for May, 2011

Just as I was thinking that Becoming Alice was slowly making its way into oblivion, I received an email from an unknown sender. I am always hesitant to open emails from parties that I don’t know. I learned that early on when many of them were strictly advertisements and come-ons for products I had no interest in. Others were sexual. Give me a break! So, naturally I either delete those emails or report them as scam. Even then I don’t think AOL does anything to keep them from coming.

Back to the latest email I received from an unknown sender. I don’t know why but for some reason I opened it and it was adressed to me by name. It was from a woman who bought Becoming Alice from me at the Los Aangeles Times Book Festival a couple of years ago. She wondered if I remembered her. She was the lady who had with her a handicapped son in a wheelchair. Of course, I did not remember her. I talked to a zillion people that day. She stated that the reason she emailed me was that she was moved by my account of the old butcher in my story who was forced to sell his store to my parents in order to stay home and help his wife care for their mentally retarded son.

She wanted to know more about why he made that decision and not any other kind, such as institutionalization. She wondered what responsibility society has in caring for such handicapped people. She wondered if she should listen to what her friends were advising her to do. And she wondered how his situation finally turned out.

I could not answer that question but I was able to share with her my own experience with couples who have had to deal with this problem, each making a different decision for themselves. My husband had a severely retarded brother who was cared for by their parents until his mother was ninety-two, at which time she herself needed elder care. Another couple gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby and placed him directly from the hospital into an institution. Each of them made different decisions for themselves which they thought were right. My advice to her was to do whatever she thought was right for her.

In the end it is she who will have to be responsible for that decision, not society or her friends. Her last email to me was to thank me for my advice; she said it made her feel better about her decision to keep her son at home.

I never expected Becoming Alice to be useful to someone in this particular way, but I couldn’t have been more pleased.

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I’m all over the map going in all directions and getting nothing done. This time being “all over the map” is literal since I’ve just spent ten days in New York, the Netherlands, and Holland. That is one of the reasons why I haven’t posted anything here on WordPress. I was busy getting together clothes, sundries, toiletries, medications, reading material (for those long plane rides,) and paper to work on my next writing project. You’d think I was going to be spending time with a Stone Age tribe in the Amazon. Didn’t it ever occur to me that I could buy any one of those items in all of the above-mentioned destinations?

But the frustrating part of it all was that when I finally did find some time before my departure to get onto my computer, I couldn’t get through to the internet. A hasty call to my computer guy resulted in our needing to do more research to find out if my computer had died, or if the fault of lay in the hands ofTime Warner. They were in no hurry to come out to my house and my plane was leaving.

Never mind, I would have a computer at my disposal on the ship that was taking me on a River Cruise in Holland. Two computers for 130 guests on the boat! When I finally was able to get to one of them the ship was always located in a position out of range of the satellite. I tried to switch gears and pull out my writing pad. As soon as I finished a sentence or two, the Cruise Director would blast an announcement over the loudspeaker about our next port of call, or a waiter would ask me if I wanted to order a drink.

Perhaps you wonder why I didn’t spend any time getting to know my fellow passengers. The answer is that many of them were playing bridge in the back lounge. Good night, they could have done that back home in Iowa. Some of them came in packs of nine or ten people and they remained self-contained the entire time. I shouldn’t neglect to mention the three or four people who spent most of the cruise reading a newspaper or a Kindle. Luckily I brought mine along with me. The only problem was that I finished reading my book and couldn’t download another because there was no wifi connection available.

I thought about using my cell phone to call some of my friends back home, but I hadn’t purchased an international card before I left. All this made me aware of how dependent we have become on the amazing machines we have at our dispoasal. Imagine life without a computer, cell phone, or wifi connection. Yikes!

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