by Thad DeVassie
In documenting my mother’s dementia, the last thing I expected to be writing about was my father’s bizarre forgetfulness as well. It had that stranger-than-fiction quality to it requiring no embellishment, no overthinking. The elements of sad truth were enough, giving me a heads up that dementia and Alzheimer’s are indeed sneaky. Fool me once, but not twice.
The challenge with walking out any disease, any decline, is that the people around you who aren’t immediately affected eventually slip away as well. The well-meaning concern is no longer spoken. Caregivers and family are left with an ongoing heavy burden. Writing became a way to speak out the grief, the anger, the comic and the confusion — not into a void per se, but out there, in the open, for others to discover and say: yes, I know this. I feel this. It’s a message in a bottle to wash up on a future shore. A reminder that in our hard moments we are not alone.
For us a writers, it’s important to lean into these experiences and document for writers and readers alike. It is the documentation that leads to the personal story, and the personal story connects us to universal ones. There is this catharsis that feels necessary to me as a writer, even when nonfiction isn’t my preferred lane.
Thad DeVassie is a multi-genre writer and fine art painter who creates from the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of three chapbooks, including SPLENDID IRRATIONALITIES, which was awarded the James Tate International Poetry Prize in 2020. Find more of his words and paintings at www.thaddevassie.com.