Friday, November 17, 2017

"A Daughter's Promise" by Fran Lewis

A Daughter's Promise
by Fran Lewis

A Daughter's Promise by Fran Lewis

A Daughter's Promise by Fran Lewis is currently on tour with Providence Book Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

This story is about a promise I made to my mother to take care of her through her Alzheimer’s disease nightmare. The book includes my mother’s own thoughts from her journal about her ordeals with the various stages of this debilitating and dehumanizing condition. Her outlook on life was remarkable, and although her mind began to wander, she never lost sight of who she was, her sense of humor, or her family. This is the story of someone whose courage went beyond what most people could endure, and whose never-dying zest for life kept her alive. I hope our story will help others in coping with this difficult and demanding affliction.

Part One: A Daughter’s Promise
Fran Lewis
Reading has always been the way for me to escape to other worlds, learn about many different places, and expand my knowledge of so many subjects. With a notepad in hand and several pens at the ready, I begin reading the many books that authors send me each day. Detailing the plot, the characters, and taking notes throughout, I create a perfect analysis of the book.
Remembering what my mom had told me, to always look for that special message in the book and create that first paragraph to stimulate reader interest, I begin my review. Perfection: that’s what she always told me. Each piece of writing, each assignment had to be done to the standards set by my teachers and professors, and then pass the highest test: mom’s. I remember coming out of school one night, and she stuck her hand out waiting to see what I’d gotten on my midterm in one of my graduate courses in administration. I still smile when I remember what happened. I left out one question and got a 98, and I told mom what I did wrong and the right answer. But, the professor was so frustrated with most of the other students that she had to revamp the scores by adding ten points to everyone’s test scores just to have more students pass, so mom was satisfied with my 108. And, of course, on the final I did get 100 and an A in the class, because it was what was expected of me by myself, and of course, mom.
Till this day I still create my reviews, my schedule for my radio show, and anything else that I decide to venture into, like the MJ magazine in memory of my sister Marcia Joyce, with the understanding that my work has to stand up to the highest standards. The articles, reviews, stories, and issues that are published should be equal to those of any credible magazine on the newsstands.
So, mom, it’s been five years and it seems like yesterday. I hope I will continue to make you proud of me. You taught me well. Yes, I never leave the house without looking my best. You were my mom, my mentor, and my best friend. You will always be here for me in spirit.
Today you would have celebrated your 89th birthday with a special red rose and your favorite chocolate cake. Your blue eyes and your great smile would light up the room, and of course the presents we would give you would make you proud. You taught us never to give up on our dreams, nor settle for less than we want in our lives. You made sure that you listened when we felt down and needed a guiding hand to rise back up. You never faltered and never passed judgment. You were our mother, our guide, and our best friend. Rules were made and enforced, but never with an iron hand. Explanations were given for your requests, and we all followed suit and showed you the respect you deserved.
When you became ill we all rallied together as a family to make sure you remained at home and received great help. We were truly blessed to have Joyce, Joan, Laurel, Pat, Tessa, Loretta, and Getty to take such good care of you and, of course, someone we all miss and loved, Veronica Collins, your case manager, who made sure that you were safe and protected by the best aides in the world from Partners in Care. So, mom, happy birthday, and let the sun shine tomorrow so we know that you are still watching over us and protecting Marcia, who is with you now. We miss your wisdom, your guidance, the huge grey mobile that you drove anywhere you were needed, as the taxi driver for your friends, and the orange mobile that my reading students loved when you picked me up or drove me to school. I made a promise and vowed that I would do everything in my power to care for you, keep your mind and body active, and never even consider the one thing so many others do—placing you in a nursing home.
The circle of life begins on the day you are born and ends when you close your eyes for the last time and take your last precious breath.
Ruth Swerdloff started her life on November 22, 1927, and became a part of a loving, nurturing family that would remain intact for the first two years of her life until the loss of her mother, when things would change. But, Ruth was special from the start, and although facing her first obstacle at the age of two, losing a parent, she somehow learned to accept the change with the help of her sister, Tova, and three brothers, Kenny, Irving, and Harry. This is her story. This is where her circle of life begins.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Heartfelt and emotionally wrenching, A Daughter's Promise is a story of life and love set against a metaphorical journey that rings with optimism against a backdrop of the impossible toll a disease like Alzheimer's on a family. Fran Lewis's beautifully written tale spares not a single word in finding light amid a growing and pervasive darkness, even as it salvages hope from despair. This is Tuesdays with Morrie for a new generation, a brilliant depiction in fact of what Nicholas Sparks does so well in fiction." ~ Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author
"This memoir of Alzheimer's is unflinching in its honesty. At times, it is so raw that you may want to look away - but don't, because the pain of this story is outweighed by its courage, devotion, and love." ~ Brian Freeman, Amazon bestselling author

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Fran tells the story of her time as a carer for her mother Ruth, who was battling Alzheimer's. When Fran first found out about Ruth's diagnosis, she honored her mother's wish and promised not to confine her to a nursing home. This was Ruth's greatest fear: "if it were up to the staff of the hospital I would have been placed in a nursing home and left to be forgotten with the rest of the people who have this terrifying, humiliating, and awful disease."
This book is a love letter from a daughter to her mother. Fran states: "I hope that this book and what I have written will help anyone that has a parent, grandparent, child, aunt, or uncle hit by this dreadful disease to understand it from the viewpoint of the caregivers and the person that will never be the same." Fran describes the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's in general and details the memory loss, deteriorating health, and changes in behavior in her mother, in particular. Fran concludes the book with tips for caregivers to look after themselves, tips on caring for their loved one, and a list of online resources. While Fran kept her promise to her mother and never regretted her decision, she does admit that looking after an Alzheimer's patient may not be the right decision for everyone and that not all nursing homes are as bad as the ones she experienced.
Fran's account is interspersed with the words of Ruth herself, written at various stages of the disease. Fran tells us: "I created this book from the years of personal journals that my mother kept from the moment she realized something was wrong." Ruth's account is heartbreaking in places: her loneliness at being ignored by neighbors she has known for over forty years and, especially, when she realizes her daughter Marcia has died. Ruth's contributions give us a great insight into the thoughts and feelings of the Alzheimer's sufferer.
Only a few events are actually detailed in the book, and these are repeated a number of times, albeit from a slightly different perspective each time. This may be a deliberate technique by the author to mimic the tendency of a person with Alzheimer's to repeat the same story over and over again. We are left with a touching insight into how this disease affects two strong women. I love the addition of the photo album of family snaps at the end of the book.

About the Author
Fran Lewis
Fran Lewis is the author of the Bertha and Tillie series, Faces Behind the Stones series, and a series of books on Alzheimer's and caregiving. She has three master’s degrees, worked as the reading and writing staff developer and dean of a NY City public school for over 36 years, and remains in touch with her students. She is an avid reader and reviewer and has her own show on blog talk radio: Literary Viewpoints with Fran Lewis. Fran created her own magazine, MJ Magazine, and her radio network, MJ Network, in memory of her sister Marcia Joyce.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of A Daughter's Promise by Fran Lewis.