“It has been said that of all the Ten Commandments “Thou Shalt Honor Thy Mother and Thy Father” is the most difficult to know how to put into action. This can seem especially true when a dementia that has taken hold of your parent seems to have taken him or her away from you. Dwayne Clark’s My Mother, My Son is a marvelously touching memoir of one son’s rich experience with the travails and struggles to be found in being by one’s parent’s side at such a time. While Mr. Clark offers, with raw candor, a description of the sorrows and problems associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, he also shares an inviting vision of the rewards, deep meaning and even strengths that can be found in such caregiving.
Though the book tells but one family’s story it can easily serve as an inspiring and intellectually penetrating guide for all caregivers fighting to not lose sight of their loved one’s core personhood when this dreaded disease has taken up occupancy. It is also an immensely valuable resource for professionals working with neurodegenerative diseases as it offers a powerful glimpse as to how essential individuality and worth remains even though the gross stereotype of a diagnostic label has been imposed. Certainly, for all those involved in the senior housing industry, My Mother, My Son calls for us to give critical scrutiny and reappraisal to how we conceive of and implement the residential dementia care that we ourselves may need to receive someday.”
- Glenn Hammel, Ph.D., Neuropsychologist
So many of us have shared with someone we love the long and difficult journey with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a journey filled with anxiety, despair, and an abject loneliness—but also with hope, humor, and abiding love. In My Mother, My Son, Dwayne Clark touches on all these aspects of the journey with candor and compassion. The unwavering commitment of a mother to her son and a son to his mother at the heart of this book lifted me up. Thanks, Dwayne.
- Bob Leroy, President and CEO, Alzheimer’s Association Western and Central Washington State Chapter
Yes, there are kings in this country: the rare breed of men with minds, hearts and souls of such quality that they are a privilege to witness and a gift to oneself to move into their company. Dwayne offers us all that very opportunity with his newly published book, My Mother, My Son: A true story of love, determination, and memories…lost. Dwayne’s poignant, relevant and most powerful story illuminates the very things that this life is offered for each of us to find. Although success for Dwayne is the stuff that movies are made of, it is not lost on him that each of our lives afford the same ingredients.
His book is a love story; we enter through relationship, we are wounded in relationship, we heal in relationship and we exit in relationship…to one another, ourselves, the circumstances, gifts and challenges that arrive in each life (to his beloved mother, one such arrival was the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and all that it took and what it could not take). Bravo to brilliant Dwayne for his ever fierce soul that invites expansion in all of us and welcomes each of us to the feast. There are no exceptions at Dwayne’s table–only honored guests. My Mother, My Son is practical, entertaining, illuminating, wise, evocative, challenging and mostly life affirming. Dwayne Clark has written a must read for all.
- Nicole Jon Carroll, Family Counselor
I started the book on a Friday night and didn’t stop until I finished it on Sunday. I was amazed at the raw courage, loyalty, and honesty that Dwayne exhibited both in his life and in the writing of the book. He was fearless in examining his own emotional response to the devastating results that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson disease had on his mother and family.
Many families struggle with such a mixture of grief, doubt, shame, and hope. They often feel very alone and isolated in their experience. I am sure that reading that such a successful person has experienced all of the same emotions will in itself be a huge help and comfort. Knowing that it is not a personal weakness to feel these things, but part of what happens to everyone (even highly successful CEO’s of an industry dealing with these issues) is certainly a reassuring reality check.
The references and tips at the end are very useful and well thought out. The fact that the proceeds go to two groups that are helping so many (The Potato Soup Foundation and The Alzheimer’s Association) is even further evidence of the good heart behind this work.
- Claudia Finkelstein MD, UW Long Term Care Service, Harborview Medical Center
“Too often, those who care for an aging family feel alone. To shatter this isolation, Dwayne Clark shares his often painful experiences supporting a mother with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He also offers caregivers his professional advice from within the assisted-living industry, and his hard won wisdom. This refreshingly honest memoir is a true friend through hard times.”
- Dr. Kirtland C. Peterson, ISCI Consulting
“Dwayne Clark recounts the profoundly painful journey of his mother’s struggle with both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s in this honest memoir and helpful resource. Through his professional expertise and personal experience, Dwayne is able to pass along his words of wisdom and sound advice. Through my extensive work with the elderly, I know that family members will find comfort and validation in this book as they maneuver their own path with an aging loved one. ”
- Nathan Billig, M.D. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and former Director of Geriatric Psychiatry Georgetown University School of Medicine Washington, DC
“Dwayne Clark has painted a vivid picture of his mother Mary Colleen and her colorful journey through life, and through Alzheimer’s disease. When she tells her son, “I think I’m losing my mind,” I took a deep breath; so many of us have had similar conversations with friends and family members we love. My Mother, My Son encourages caregivers to recall and celebrate memories, keep your sense of humor, and take little and big steps throughout the day to help a person with Alzheimer’s disease feel safe, secure and valued.”
- David Troxel, co-author of A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care
“A very moving portrait of the difficulties in taking care of an Alzheimer’s victim by the CEO of a major long-term care company. Dwayne presents his unique view of the issues that caregivers have to deal with.”
- Edward L. Schneider, MD, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Gerontology, Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Professor of Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
“British Mary Colleen Callahan, Dwayne Clark’s mother, grew up in luxury on a huge estate in India surrounded by love and a dozen Indian servants. An American soldier brings her to the United States. They have four children. He deserts her. And she, with great humor and industry, becomes the guiding light of Dwayne’s life. Then she is struck by Alzheimer’s. My Mother, My Son is Dwayne’s inspirational story of how he respectfully deals with the devastation of his heroine’s life. More heart wrenching than Tuesday’s with Morrie because Dwayne’s book sheds light on the tearing of the symbiosis of mother and son.”
- Bernie Kopell, Actor
“I was surprised by how much I identified with this book and more, how much I didn’t know. Being a social worker, I expect myself to know more than I do. But I realize when it comes to my father; I have a combination of denial and “not wanting to know.” I haven’t done the research I should have done, perhaps. I appreciate you showing vulnerability in what you didn’t know and in the things you thought you should know. We can’t be professionals at home!
- Lynn Behar, whose father has Alzheimer’s Disease (Reisberg scale 7A)