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June blew in on a celebratory note with the release of Come Helen High Water and Emily’s birthday… but left on a bittersweet tone. My dad passed away at the end of the month after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. I firmly believe he’s in a better place. I got to see first-hand what Alzheimer’s does to a person, and it’s not a pretty sight. It ravages the mind and body of the afflicted and pervades the health of the rest of the family, too. I can see how deeply it wore out my mom. I feel it, too, although I had far less weight on my shoulders than she did.
One of the last things my dad said to me that I understood was when I visited him on Father’s Day. He haltingly remarked, “You… seem… happy.” I told him I was, that Ed and Emily made me happy every day. Maybe it’s my writer’s brain, but I think he wanted to be reassured that it was okay for him to go. Now I imagine him surrounded by so many people he’d lost who love him, and I see him whole again. When Emily learned Grandpa had died, she said, “Will he have all his marbles again in Heaven?” I replied that he would. She smiled and said, “That’s a good thing, Mommy.” A very good thing, indeed.
Come Helen High Water is dedicated to my dad, and it means more to me now than ever. Without him, I could not have created Bernie Winston, a man who suffers from the disease, and the story-line that follows him. I don’t think you ever know the ways that an illness touches a person or the family until you’ve gone through it. I feel that way about Alzheimer’s now and, of course, breast cancer, too. Which makes me think I’m getting a wee bit too well-versed on very scary things! But it’s a reminder to me that so many of us deal with this stuff every day. We endure it, we trudge through it as best we can, and we (mostly) survive.
A happy high note to share: the folks at HarperCollins are giving away five paperbacks of Come Helen High Water. If you’re on GoodReads, enter just by clicking on this link and following instructions. Good luck! If you’re on Facebook, keep an eye on my pages this week as I’ll be doing a flash giveaway of at least six e-book copies of Helen #4.
If you’d like to purchase your copy now, the audio and e-books are currently available. The paperback edition will be released on July 25 (which isn’t too far away!).
Last but not least, I wrote a piece about my father’s journey, which I’ve shared on Facebook and would like to share with you. You can click here to read it. And should you wish to help in the fight against Alzheimer’s by making a donation in my father’s name, that would be awesome. You can donate to the Missouri chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and say “It’s for Jim McBride.” Thank you.
Happy July and Happy Reading.