I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on a Tuesday at 5:25 in the morning—which, coincidentally, is the last time I did anything that early in the day. The only possible exception might be any trip I’ve ever taken to the beach; I’m always up for an early start to the coast.
I grew up living life as a city girl—private schools, neighbors you could reach out and touch from your kitchen window—but twice in the summer, then between Christmas and the New Year, and again during Spring Break, I’d convert into a country girl as I traveled the road between Memphis and my grandparents’ home in north central Arkansas. Over there I fed cows, helped Grandpa split logs, and had Grandma teaching me to crochet and do embroidery. And reading—we did lots and lots of reading. I developed quite a love for the weight of a book in my hands.
We’d sit on the porch in the summer evenings listening to the tree frogs flood the night with their repetitious music as we munched on fresh watermelon from Grandpa’s garden, and we’d talk about books and travel and music and the simpler times of Grandma’s childhood.
So I grew on up, as kids are apt to do, getting my degree in Journalism from the University of Memphis where I met my husband Chris. During the months leading up to our wedding, I began to realize that Grandma’s memories were fading away into non-existence. Eight months into our marriage, the bottom fell out and I became the caregiver for my Grandma—and my Grandpa; dementia claimed them both at the same time.
My years of caregiving were comparatively short, although I did have double-duty for most of them. By the end of 1999 they were both gone, and Chris and I had a new baby boy to raise, followed three years later by his younger sister. But inside my mind I had a story stirring, a memoir, a need to recount the extraordinary events of caring for my grandparents as Grandpa’s unspecified dementia and Grandma’s Alzheimer’s ravaged their final years.
So as my children napped, I clacked away at my keyboard, committing the story to paper. As kids got older, my pet project was shelved as elementary and middle school years took center stage. But once high school was underway, time in my mornings opened up, so I began to write again. I started by transcribing what I had already written many years earlier, then I began discussing the events of my grandparents’ final years with my husband and my mother, and our memories began to tumble forth.
Goodnight, Sweet: A Caregiver’s Long Goodbye was released on March 1, 2019, and it’s opened the door for me to speak to different groups throughout the country. It’s been my privilege to talk with current caregivers in a variety of settings, everything from discussion panels and conference breakout sessions to being the conference keynote speaker.
I’ve been blessed to fill many different roles in my life, and it’s hard to say that any one position has been more significant than another. I’ve been daughter and granddaughter, wife, caregiver, mother, and now I add author/speaker into the mix. But what links them all and gives each one enhanced meaning is my faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection three days later give every area of my life meaning and hope. For my family, as well as the wonderful opportunities I’ve been given, I am truly grateful; all glory and honor to Jesus!
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven.”
– Hebrews 1:3
Oh, and I really love my boxer-beagle mix, Brookie. And chocolate.