REMEMBERING THE MUSIC, FORGETTING THE WORDS

Travels With Mom in the Land of Dementia

Kate Whouley

Kate Whouley is a smart, single woman who faces life head-on. Her mother, Anne, is a strong-minded accidental feminist with a weakness for unreliable men. Their complicated relationship isn’t simplified when Anne exhibits symptoms of organic memory loss. As Kate becomes her mother’s advocate and protector, she will discover that the demon we call Alzheimer’s is also an unlikely teacher—and healer. For anyone who has faced and fought the decline of a parent or loved one, this book will touch your heart, make you smile, and, quite possibly, change the way you think about love, life, and loss.

more …

Kate Whouley is a smart, single woman who faces life head-on. Her mother, Anne, is a strong-minded accidental feminist with a weakness for unreliable men. Their complicated relationship isn’t simplified when Anne exhibits symptoms of organic memory loss. As Kate becomes her mother’s advocate and protector, she will discover that the demon we call Alzheimer’s is also an unlikely teacher—and healer. For anyone who has faced and fought the decline of a parent or loved one, this book will touch your heart, make you smile, and, quite possibly, change the way you think about love, life, and loss.

less …
  • Beacon Press
  • Paperback
  • September 2012
  • 240 Pages
  • 9780807003312

Buy the Book

$15.99

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Kate Whouley

Kate Whouley lives and writes on Cape Cod. An avocational flutist, she also volunteers for the Cape & Islands Art and Alzheimer’s initiative. Her first book, Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved, was a nonfiction Book Sense Book-of-the-Year nominee.

Praise

“In her often humorous and always compassionate memoir, Whouley hopes to transform how people relate to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.”Janice Lloyd, USA Today

“Reading Kate Whouley’s memoir felt like sitting down with an old friend over coffee. . . . As a reader, I felt privileged to be on the receiving end of such a confidence, which concerns the most important issues: family, mortality, our aloneness in the world, our connection in the face of it. I read it in two sittings and turned the last page with regret.”David Payne, author of Back to Wando Passo

Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words is an exceptional memoir that reminds us—often with surprising humor—of the richness of life in good times and bad. A great companion for caregivers.”David Dosa, MD, author of Making Rounds with Oscar

“I devoured this book. Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words is full of feeling, great wit, and perfect detail. Bless Kate Whouley’s writing hand!”—Rosemary Daniell, author of Secrets of the Zona Rosa

Discussion Questions

In the opening chapter, we learn that Kate Whouley’s mother Anne is a strong, intelligent woman and a role model for her daughter. In Chapter Six, Mother-Daughter, we learn their relationship is more complicated. Did your expectations for their journey change as you learned more about their past? How are family relationships complicated or enhanced by shared history?

In the absence of siblings or a partner, Kate finds support in friends, particularly her longtime girlfriends. Do you have friends who feel like family, or family members who feel like friends? How do you balance friendship and family?

Kate also seeks support and assistance from Suzanne, a professional in elder care. How does Suzanne help Kate to see her mother differently? Can you think of a situation in your family or personal life in which an outsider helped you gain perspective? How or why?

Kate, in Chapter Thirteen (Romper Room), mentions she has never thought of her relationship with her mother as particularly “close.” Would you agree with her characterization? How does their relationship change during the course of the book?

How does Kate’s understanding of Alzheimer’s disease evolve over time? Does her increasing awareness affect her attitudes toward others in her life?

Kate makes a connection between playing music and caring for a person with Alzheimer’s. What is it? How might this approach be relevant to non-musicians? Can you think of other activities that require a similar sense of being present?

On page 105, Kate writes about aging and adaptation: “Our elders move from strength to debility and debility becomes the norm.” Have you ever had to make accommodations for aging elders in your life? In what ways was your experience similar to Kate’s? In what ways was your experience different?

“Memory is overrated,” the author declares on page 186. What does she believe is more important? Do you agree or disagree?

In Chapter Twenty-Four (After Words), Kate describes a series of dreams she has after Anne’s death. How would you interpret the final dream in that series? Why do you think the author chose to share her dreams with readers?

The author ends the book with a description of a concert performance. How does this narrative choice affirm Kate’s enduring connection to her mother? Can you think of more than one way to interpret the title, Remembering the Music?