As author JJ Janice reflects on her surprise connection with a mother-daughter duo, she finds herself, an outsider, overwhelmed by mysteries regarding the short time it took for her to become a new member in this tight-knit family with a complicated past. How did she get here? What forces are at work? Why was she chosen to be a witness?
Using her diary as guide, she sifts through layers of her imagination and shares her story in Entwined Hearts. It chronicles the ascent of forgiveness by and for three women who perhaps least expect it—all in two short years. Through the stories of Anita, who suffers from Alzheimer’s; Lynn, Anita’s daughter who struggles with bi-polar disorder; and Janice, a friend to both, it investigates how relationships change and endure through challenges.
Though this memoir touches on the difficult topics of Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, stress, drugs, incarceration, and alcoholism, it also looks at the world with kind generosity and love—a love that connected three unlikely women.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)|
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Every Person Has Worth
Time flies by! Already it has been several years since my two special ladies left on their eternal vacation. The mother, Anita, had Alzheimer's and was not expected to live much longer. The daughter, Lynn, battled bipolar disorder, drugs, alcoholism, and even incarceration during her younger life. The choices people make in life on a daily basis affect everyone's future, not just the futures of those making the good or bad decisions. From these two ladies I learned that every person has self-worth and that it's important to keep a promise.
Over time I found that I needed to freely speak with someone who would not judge or question my experiences in my two-year relationship with this family. Our lifestyles were totally different in some ways yet very similar in some challenges. The mother and I enjoyed teaching, while the daughter and I lived life sometimes in our own bubbles we had created, afraid to step into reality. There was a fear to allow anyone to know who we really were as human beings. Yet all three of us had so much in common because we loved life.
I stepped forward and spoke with friends about my two-year experience. I felt their silent words. I imagined them saying things like "Get over it. You're not even blood family." However, something kept tugging at my open heart, especially in regard to the mother's words "I've been waiting for you." I realized that saying "I love you" must come from the heart.
I greatly appreciated my friends as each separately listened to my stories, and their honesty was refreshing. Their strong shoulders encouraged me to smile during extremely sad times when my heart was deeply crushed by these two ladies' lives and deaths. My friends' warm hearts and hugs carried my emotions so I didn't stumble and fall into depression.
However, I quickly learned that speaking with people wasn't a good idea, because my friends couldn't relate to my experiences, especially a promise from a stranger. Thus, after a considerable amount of time, the conclusion was simply to speak with a person who wasn't real. I thought about writing in a diary to log my various experiences. Then my mind changed back to an unreal person to write to. I could write freely to a person who wasn't real. Writing about my experiences with these two ladies now has become peaceful. They had such a positive impact on my future choices in life and taught me how important it is to face circumstances with a positive attitude.
My mind entertained that perhaps a psychologist would be good, but he or she would have had to take notes and ask questions — questions I didn't want to face because I just wanted someone to listen to me. I could speak freely in front of a person who wasn't real. I wondered how many other people needed to know they were not alone after they faced such hardships in life.
In today's world people use a keyboard to type words onto a blank screen. The information is kept silently in a computer. This form of communication would be my way of releasing frustrations and stress. I would write to someone who would not be judgmental or critical of my experiences. I needed to pour out my thoughts only to quiet listening ears. This fake person would be referred to as my dearest diary, and using my computer would be like using a pen. My dearest diary would become my closest friend. I would call myself the common stranger.
This was my right path. It would allow me to be free to pen my experiences and my heart's growing love for these two people, who were changing my life. Life is full of surprises, adventures, and predictions. Every day we make choices. I think about the true meaning of life and how it had been filled with loads of laughter during visits with Anita and Lynn. Our laughter helped release the deep stress involved with the circumstances of Alzheimer's and other issues.
I have looked at life differently since meeting these two people. Life will always include good and bad seasonal experiences. The good seasons are where prayers become special praises. It's like going for a walk and stopping to smell the roses. Praise God Almighty for bringing these two ladies into my life. It's those bad choices that make me feel defeated. The bad choices become cold like a snow blizzard in winter covering emotions. After these times I'm usually begging for forgiveness from God Almighty. It's all in keeping good attitudes and trusting faith.
As I expand in years, the seasonal experiences become more precious. There are so many wonderful people bringing laughter and joy into my heart like Anita and Lynn did. It's refreshing to be around happy people. They stimulate my energy so that I'm more positive. My friend Sue does that. Then there are seasons that bring people who disrupt my values like Lynn did. Are these values silent standards for how people live or what they stand up for? Perhaps it is more the honesty, integrity, and even the freedom that comes from a conscience, knowing right from wrong.
It has become very humbling knowing people really care about me as a human being during hard times. Realizing I am actually not alone and that others have been through these same or similar challenging times brings me hope for a positive future.
Over the past several years, there have been different types of seasons in my life. Each season presents various experiences. Lynn constantly moved around the world, whereas I grew up on a berry and chicken farm. She once said, "Growing up and living in various countries, we had servants." I cleaned my own room and helped with chores, weeding the berry fields preparing food for lunch and dinner, and doing the dishes. Both of us loved sports. Running often took away the daily built-up stresses. Neither one of us had lasting childhood friendships. But she told me her stories about how she kept making bad decisions into her adulthood. Fortunately, these types of choices seldom connected Lynn and me. In a way we both were loners who liked being associated with people but kept mostly to ourselves. Neither Lynn nor I liked to gossip.
While living abroad with her parents, Lynn's self-identity was positive, but it turned negative when the family relocated to central Texas during her late teenage years. She was a highly accomplished runner and swimmer in the schools she had attended in countries overseas. But it was hard adjusting to her new world in the United States, where she felt there was no place for her to showcase her talents. Even almost making the master's swim team made a difference in Lynn's future. Neither Lynn nor Anita forgot that devastating teenage experience. Who could this teenager talk with about her time living in different countries and knowing other cultures? Most other normal teens did not understand living in other parts of the world. Lynn had a secret desire to go to college and to work toward obtaining a PhD, but this deep desire was only fulfilled years later through a loving relative.
Later as a grown adult, Lynn learned to make better choices, but her past followed each path she took, including the times when she started looking for work. Lynn's early-adult life choices were very disappointing and heart-wrenching for her parents. Could they ever really forgive her?
Her mother dreamed of a better future for her child, but during those trying years, thoughts of creating a fictitious person crept into Anita's mind. Anita was deeply hurt by the way Lynn lived during her young adult years. Anita hid her sorrows as much as possible from relatives, friends, neighbors, and associates. Was Anita a priceless silent prayer warrior who could bring thoughts into reality because she was a writer? She was one very strong-willed woman with deep hurts. What did forgiveness mean between this mother and daughter?
Anita and Lynn spoke often about their lives in different ways, even their deaths. Anita was a dedicated wife and mother who wanted to die because she knew how Alzheimer's would steal her mind. She felt her life experiences were far too precious for this intruder. Anita's Alzheimer's was little by little attacking different parts of her brain, taking away memories and experiences, even blanking out precious names of close family members, people, and circumstances. Alzheimer's thrives on moving memories into a dark, limitless void. Time was not on Anita's side.
Throughout Anita's life she knew the importance of education. She became a librarian, historian, traveler, and writer, but her family was always her number-one concern. She was connected in the community and highly respected. When Anita found out she had Alzheimer's, this mother asked her daughter, Lynn, to help her die, but Lynn also loved life and just could not assist with her mother's request.
Anita and I spoke about how important it was for this family's ties to continue to grow strong and close as they moved around the world. She would take a fake Christmas tree everywhere they moved to keep this tradition alive. Hearing the simple words "I love you" acted like glue, holding each family member's heart together. It's not easy moving in the service. Somehow these simple words were not always enough to cover forgiveness. Anita was very angry at Lynn because of her past life and how embarrassing it was to the family name. Meanwhile, Lynn felt she needed to prove her worthiness to her parents, showing everyone that her lifestyle had changed. She longed to be accepted by her parents.
It amazed me how easy it was for Anita to say to me, "I love you. I've been waiting for you," but why would she give such kind words to me yet yell at her own daughter? Would Lynn's mother ever speak these precious words to her daughter, who longed to hear them from her mother's own lips? My life was becoming entwined in their lives, and our hearts were bleeding together as I noticed deep hurts between mother and daughter.
Both Anita and Lynn had very high IQs. Anita believed she could conquer anything, including Alzheimer's. Lynn thought drugs could control circumstances. This common stranger became the missing piece to a lonely woman's life. I remember thinking about how God had quite a sense of humor, placing people together for His purposes. Or was this all accomplished through prayers?
What amazed me was that even with Alzheimer's, Anita and I could communicate. Once I asked Anita what her first words were when Lynn was born. "A little girl," replied Anita. How amazing! This lady in the last stage of Alzheimer's understood exactly what I was asking her. When I reported back to Lynn what her mother said, I added the word beautiful.
Lynn must have picked up on my editorializing because she dismissed the comment. She just said, "I wish Mom would tell me she loves me." Yes, my dearest diary, I did speak a little lie to Lynn, but I am still glad I did it. Perhaps it helped improve this mother-daughter relationship. I know God hates lying. Let Him be my judge.
My dearest diary, Lynn once told me (in front of her husband) that she just knew her mother wished she had aborted her. Was that really her truth? What a horrible comment to tell a daughter! Can a person know what is in another person's heart? Can a person look, listen, and read between the lines another person has spoken? It's between these two people. Each person must make his or her very own decision as to what life is worth. As for me, I choose life.
I've thought about this family and how difficult it must have been to constantly move around (since their family was in the service). I know there was significant closeness in this family. There must have been much forgiveness too.
I observed how this mother and daughter connected and disconnected. I saw the deep meaning of love in their attitudes along with their disagreements. And I've seen and heard stories of how deep hurts shattered the love at times. Anita knew her husband and children loved her, but she longed to be remembered. This was a family with so many hurts.
Growing mature during various seasons is essential to choosing and accepting our decisions. Nothing stands still. Either life moves forward, or one will live in the past. If a person lives in the past, always remembering the bad, then they lose the ability to move forward. Each of life's experiences is an opportunity to step forward into a higher, more positive, and happier life. The choice is exactly that — a choice. These seasons have become more and more precious as time has advanced my years. My choices are more thought out now, and my decisions have become very precious.
I learned something very interesting during those two years — creative mix-matches. Before meeting Anita and Lynn, I never related to the idea of creative reality. How could people create in their hearts (subconscious minds) the beginning of a reality? Now I know that through personal experience people can create in their hearts and minds what they want and desire. It's called hard work and finding a way to keep the dream alive and meeting a goal. It's a person's faith that will determine the forthcoming creation.
Positive creative thinking really works. If you think positive thoughts, there will be a positive force at work in your life. If you think negative thoughts there will be a negative force at work in your life. When people combine their positive creativity thoughts with their faith, it is at that point the desired positive thoughts will move beyond self-will. By speaking verbally what is in your heart, you can inspire deeply hidden desires to move toward existence. Joining words, pictures, and thoughts with faith can eventually bring things into reality. It just takes time to coordinate everything together. As for Anita, it took years to turn her ideal dream person into reality as she carved the image of a person. Everything and everyone connected must be on the same wavelength for everything to come together.
My dearest diary, time really does fly by quickly. My eyes watched Anita became very frail. Meanwhile, Lynn desired to become the family's matriarch. As for me, I am just a common stranger who learned I was worth my weight in gold by helping two deeply hurting family members.
Over time it became clear to me how Anita was a lonely woman who wanted to be remembered. While she was sick, each day was the same. Who would take time to visit with her? Her family, her books, her joys, and her sorrows were real. Did she have a memory bucket list? Was she checking off and able to let go of the past joys that were on her memory lists before she lost them to the black void of Alzheimer's?
Each of us three women viewed Alzheimer's and life differently. Lynn viewed me as someone who moved into her mother's life. She questioned my presence as her mother welcomed giving me her books. Over time Lynn appreciated me, the stranger. Eventually, Lynn became more aware of a closeness developing between her mother and me. This moved her mind to jealousy and then envy.
Meanwhile, Anita did not want to become helpless. She had been independent all of her life. She had always lived life to the fullest and made her own decisions. As for my life, it became more open, more flexible, and more caring about other people. I saw firsthand some of the mean realities this family went through as they watched their loved one's mind blackened out by Alzheimer's. How could they handle all of this stress under constantly difficult circumstances?
Hopefully, through time they will all heal from the deep hurts and bad choices experienced. It's easy to look at the outside of a person and make judgments. Stepping out of my comfort zone caused anxiety and made me wonder when I should speak to both of these ladies. In the past there were times when I was chastised for speaking out to those in power. Because of these ladies, I was gaining self-confidence to stand up for the less fortunate. Always remember that the outside features of people can be deceiving. Look into their eyes and their hearts to find hurting hearts. Smiles don't always represent what is really happening in a person's private life.
My dearest diary, come, listen and walk on this dusty path of silence, and let's deal with the emotional experiences through words on my computer. I know you will not criticize or judge me. Here is my story.
Good Homes Located
During the summer of 2005, I was looking for a good book for my English as a Second Language / English Language Learners conversation group, for whom I was the facilitator. The book needed to be filled with simple information on activities understandable for English Language Learners (ELL), people who were learning English as a Second Language (ESL). These were educational classes offered to all cultures studying beginning English.
One evening at a restaurant, a friend overheard me looking for an entertainment book with routes off the beaten fishing paths to explore and visit new places. My friend came over to our table and suggested an author. Timidly, I asked for more information.
The next night we met at a neighboring club. He brought me the author's book. It was filled with many basic vocabulary words that were used in simple sentences. I quickly glanced through the Texas book and noticed various pictures showing how and where to locate good fishing holes and places to experience nature's habitats. This book was perfect for my students. Locating something new for the students to learn from was pleasing.
Excerpted from "Entwined Hearts"
Copyright © 2017 JJ Janice.
Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Every Person Has Worth, 1,
Chapter 2 Good Homes Located, 9,
Chapter 3 The Book Comes Alive, 17,
Chapter 4 Guest Author Day, 24,
Chapter 5 Birthday Surprise, 31,
Chapter 6 The Good Life, 37,
Chapter 7 I've Been Waiting for You, 48,
Chapter 8 The Questions, 54,
Chapter 9 Asking for Help, 60,
Chapter 10 The Center, 68,
Chapter 11 Facing Reality, 101,
Chapter 12 Lynn, 117,
Chapter 13 Can't Handle Any More, 132,
Chapter 14 Marijuana and Alcoholism, 142,
Chapter 15 Fighting Bipolar Disorder, 150,
Chapter 16 Alzheimer's Disease and Health Concerns, 154,
Chapter 17 Everyone Is Human, 158,
Chapter 18 The Closing Doors, 163,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved Entwined Hearts by JJ Janice. The subject matter hit home regarding Alzeheimer's . My Mother was ill for 9 years and it was heartbreaking. I really think that JJ Janice is an amazing writer. I highely recommend this book as a thoughtful, insightful read. If you have been around dysfunctional people in your life, you will relate.