Las Vegas attorney Gina Moreno Wilson compares Alzheimer’s disease to smog. “If you lived in a pollution free environment and woke up one day to suddenly being unable to see the mountains in the distance because of a brown smog blanket around them, you’d be shocked and probably flee in fear,” she writes in her autobiographical book “Donald’s Story: One Family’s Journey Through the Tangled Darkness of Alzheimer’s: How to Cope and Survive as Your Loved One Slips Away.”
But Wilson says that’s not how smog works. “It is insidious, building up bit by bit, until one day you’re coughing and noticing the brown blanket and commenting on how it is a really smoggy day. You can remember when the air was clear and pure, and you look back on those days with fond remembrance and sadness for what you have lost.”
What Wilson lost was her father, Vincent “Donald” Moreno, a gentle, affectionate man who “loved deeply and forever.” She details her family’s “walk through the darkness which is Alzheimer’s dementia” in the book written from her journals, memories and family history. Packed with personal stories, practical tips and data, the book was written in an effort to educate others and to help the author heal. Wilson is one of more than 100 authors slated to participate in the Clark County Library’s Spring Fling Book Fair scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 29. She is set to sign books from 2:30 to 4 p.m. For more information about the author, visit http://about.me/GinaMorenoWilson.
Excerpt from ‘Donald’s Story: One Family’s Journey Through the Tangled Darkness of Alzheimer’s’
“I’m getting dumber every day, but I still know who I love.”
These words will echo in my heart and mind for the rest of my life. They are the words of a man whose mind was slipping away and he knew it. The words of a man who clawed with every ounce of will and faith to preserve his memories of his family. The words of a man who fought with dying strength to retain his understanding of the enduring family love which had defined his life. The words of a man who couldn’t remember the name of a simple wristwatch or toothbrush, but days before he died would tell his wife of sixty years, “I love you. I’ve always loved you . . .”
Yes, these were the painful words tenderly conveyed by a father to a daughter, to me, as I held him close in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease . . .
As a lawyer, a former editor, an entrepreneur, and a school director, I’ve written for years: for my education, for work, for pleasure and for sheer escape, but never before for preservation.
Until now I’ve begun several projects only to set them aside far too often for one reason or another. Life simply gets in the way. With a couple of notable exceptions, writing thus far has been recreational — not required. Hence,I have never really felt driven to complete many of my works. Until now, you see, there was no deeper motivation, no real emotional investment. It’s not surprising then that the focus often dwindled for lack of purpose. Like souvenirs we collect along life’s path, partial manuscripts and outlines sit stacked among my treasured papers.
With the escalation of my father’s illness, everything changed. I found my life turned upside down. It was not a road I had chosen; fate had chosen it for me it seems.