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The Long Hello: Memory, My Mother, and Me
     

The Long Hello: Memory, My Mother, and Me

by Cathie Borrie
 

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A powerful, ground-shifting account of caring for a parent with Alzheimer's about which Maya Angelou exclaimed, "Joy!"

Since Cathie Borrie delivered her keynote performance at the World Alzheimer's Day event sponsored by the Community and Access Programs of the Museum of Modern Art, her self-published manuscript has won rapturous praise from noted writers

Overview


A powerful, ground-shifting account of caring for a parent with Alzheimer's about which Maya Angelou exclaimed, "Joy!"

Since Cathie Borrie delivered her keynote performance at the World Alzheimer's Day event sponsored by the Community and Access Programs of the Museum of Modern Art, her self-published manuscript has won rapturous praise from noted writers and Alzheimer's experts alike, from Maya Angelou, Lisa Genova, and Molly Peacock to Dr. Bill Thomas, Jed A. Levine of the Alzheimer's Association, NYC, and Meryl Comer of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative. Now it is available to the general public for the first time in a trade edition.

The Long Hello distills the seven years the author spent caring for her mother into a page-turning memoir that offers insight into the "altering world of the dementia mind." During that time, Borrie recorded brief conversations she had with her mother that revealed the transformations within—and sometimes yielded an almost Zenlike poetry. She includes selections from them in chapters about her experience that are as evocative as diary entries. Her mother was the emotional pillar and sometime breadwinner in a home touched by a birth father's alcoholism, a brother's early death, divorce, and a stepfather's remoteness. In Borrie's spare prose, her mother's story becomes a family's story as well a deeply loving portrait that embraces life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A sparse yet deeply affecting, poetic story of love and devotion . . . revealing moments of clarity, absurdity, wisdom, and connection that pierce and heal the heart." —Lisa Genova

"Joy!" —Maya Angelou

"Cathie Borrie is a great writer, and her exploration of life with Alzheimer's is deep, rich, nuanced, and soulful." —Dr. Bill Thomas, author of Second Wind

"The Long Hello is a graceful dance between mother and daughter through the ever-changing rhythms of Alzheimer's disease. Beautiful and profound in its telling, this story reveals the depth of poetry and creativity that the changing brain can muster along its journey. One of my favorite books on the topic!" —G. Allen Power, MD, author of Dementia Beyond Drugs and Dementia Beyond Disease

"Caregivers will recognize themselves both in the mix of light moments of connection, and in the darker, unspeakable, intolerable emotions. . . . Borrie finds poetry in her mother's language, and teaches us all important lessons about the human experience of caring. . . A beautifully written meditation on memory loss, suffering, hope, and love." —Jed A. Levine, Executive Vice President and Director, Programs and Services, Alzheimer's Association, New York City Chapter

"The Long Hello is an exceptional book about caring for people with dementia that offers a paradigm-shifting approach to maintaining relationship. Cathie Borrie enters deeply into her mother’s world, and a poetic dialogue of mutual love and respect is the result. Should be required reading for everyone caring for people with dementia, and included in the syllabus of healthcare professionals learning how to do so." —Marc Wortmann, Executive Director, Alzheimer's Disease International

"Cathie Borrie has learned to respect the wisdom in her mother's free associations. The Long Hello will touch deeply all who love." —Naomi Feil, author of Validation: The Feil Method and The Validation Breakthrough and founder and director in chief of the Validation Training Institute

"Cathie's book, The Long Hello, is one of the finest examples currently available illustrating the kind of dignity-promoting, compassionate care which should be the heart and soul of the culture change movement. The warmth of her story combats the cold realities of ageism and negative stigma that have characterized the Alzheimer's and dementia world for too long. . . . I believe that Cathie's book should be made available to all caregivers, both lay and professional, as well as policy makers, researchers, and anyone else who advocates for this cause." —Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN, Attending Neurologist, Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, Founder and President, Cognitive Dynamics Foundation, Medical Director, Dementia Dynamics, LLC

"The book's highly literary vision of disease is a powerful challenge to more detached clinical observations . . . By approaching a parent's Alzheimer's in the spirit of hello rather than goodbye, Borrie is predisposed to pay attention-yet even then she's astonished at the words that emerge from her mother's mouth, almost as if aging could unlock the imagination and unleash a verbal force held back by logic and rationality." —John Allemang, Globe and Mail

"Borrie captures the familiar cadence of repetition and the bizarre, yet touching conversations we share. We must live in their reality if we are to comfort them, and Cathie shows us how it can be done with love." —Meryl Comer, President, Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative; Emmy-award winning reporter, producer, moderator, talk show host; caregiver; and Alzheimer's Association Board Member

"Cathie Borrie's groundbreaking lyrical memoir, The Long Hello, utilizes arrestingly poetic prose to create an ideological sea change in the way in which individuals and society at large view the experience of Alzheimer's, shinning new light on the rich emotional and intellectual ways of being that are newly possible in the altering world of the dementia mind." —Francesca Rosenberg, Director, Community and Access Programs, Museum of Modern Art

"A moving and amazing breakthrough of a book." —Lynn Jackson, Co-founder of the Dementia Advocacy and Support Network International (DASNI)

"Ebullient, feisty, vulnerable, and dumbstruck by the circumstances of her life, Cathie Borrie uses the magical lens of her mother's Alzheimer's disease to examine her role of dutiful daughter. With her theatrical sense of timing. . . and her skill as a poet, Borrie writes a page-turning memoir of a whole family. . . I read this book right straight through, with all the other things I had to do, standing at attention for The Long Hello . . . Miraculously, Borrie both replicates her mother's thinking and used it as a threshold into her own remembering." —Molly Peacock, author of Paradise, Piece by Piece and The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72

"A masterpiece. . . An absorbing and fascinating account, beautifully written and of value to all engaged in the care of Alzheimer's patients-from care-giving relatives to those providing medical and social services to the ever-growing number of patients." -Dr. D.A. Henderson, Professor of Medicine and Public Health, University of Pittsburgh; and University Distinguished Service Professor and Dean Emeritus, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

"What Cathie Borrie did for her mother was wonderful. . . . What she has done for readers is inspiring. The actions are matched by the luminous prose. This book is memoir at its best." —Vancouver Sun

"The Long Hello is an amazing neo-existentialist vision, profoundly layered with love, death, agony, exquisite language, loneliness, and more love. I was overwhelmed by the filmic, sensuous imagery, the emotional force of such a raw interweaving of past and present. From somewhere (out t)here, Cathie Borrie has created a book of shimmering truth, a narrative of a life lived where we are, and a life lived on “the other side of here.” —Christian Xatrec, artist, Director of the Emily Harvey Foundation, NYC

"Toward the end, as her mother copes with a brutal cough, Borrie gently touches her chest: "Is there enough compassion in there?" her mother asks. "Yes, Mum," Borrie answers. "It's full, beautiful." The same can be said for her daughter's remarkable book." —Anne Kingston, Maclean's

"Filled with insights that will be of interest to caregivers and their families. Lyrical and evocative, it is about remembering and forgetting, presence and absence, holding on and letting go. . . . Cathie Borrie is a gifted storyteller, and she has written a memorable book about love and loss." —Jeffery Berman, author and Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York

"Cathie Borrie's heart-warming message will have you finding joy as a caregiver—even in your darkest, most difficult times . . . I am very impressed with her ability to touch and inspire others." —Steve Harrison, Radio-TV Interview Report, Million Dollar Author Club

“Cathie Borrie’s memoir The Long Hello gives hope to the many people who have a loved one living with memory loss. Her artistic response to being her mother’s caregiver is a much-needed model for other caregivers. As the Executive Director and Founder of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project I believe her book and voice would be welcome and needed at conferences on Alzheimer’s and related dementia.” —Gary Glazner, Executive Director, The Alzheimer's Poetry Project

"We are all dancers, whether secret or declared, moving to the ever-changing rhythmic tides and tensions of the human experience. In The Long Hello Cathie Borrie choreographs the changes in her mother's memory into a new way to see and be, illustrating the iridescent and persistent intelligence of the mind and the limitless wonder of our imagination. As dancers must do, she learns to release the choreography of the past and dance new steps to the shifting tune of her mother's journey through Alzheimer’s, discovering an unexpected metaphor for her experience in the beauty of bodies in motion, made possible through the ability to love." —Elaine Summers, Fulbright Scholar, MIT Fellow, pioneering choreographer and intermedia artist; original member of the Judson Dance Theater, NYC

"A moving, lyrical piece. . . " —Michael Bennett, author and professor of English, Long Island University

The Long Hello is an account of Alzheimer’s which, to my knowledge, is unique in its ambition and structure. First, because it undercuts current dialogue between mother and daughter with recreated accounts of their past life together. Secondly, because the daughter gives her insights into the seven-year caring process, and, through extracts from recorded conversations, we also gain the mother’s perspective. But that is not all: miraculously, both individuals have deeply expressive ways of turning the highs and lows into poetry. The result is not only heartfelt and heartbreaking, but a considerable work of art." —John Killick, poet, Writer-in-Residence at the Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling, UK

"Some books simply must exist and this is one of them. In this fable-like memoir we encounter the fierce loyalty of a mother and daughter refusing the isolation of Alzheimer’s. Inside their conversations we encounter a unique voice in memoir. The voice of a mother now unfettered by grammar and propriety: a candid, poetic, and surprisingly thought-provoking voice. In turn, we encounter a daughter taking her own liberties to reconstruct the abandoned, dead-ended family stories of which she is becoming the sole survivor." —Betsy Warland, nonfiction writer, poet, essayist, teacher, and editor; Director of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University; author of eleven books of poetry and creative nonfiction, including Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing

"I have spent the last day immersed in The Long Hello. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be brought into the remarkable lives portrayed poetically and with raw honesty within these pages. It reminded me that amidst the pain and suffering, loss and grief that surround the experience of caring for a loved one with memory loss, there can still be joy, sustaining connections, deep love, and possibilities for seeing and being in new ways. If only we all had that capacity!" —Sherry Dupuis Ph.D., Director, Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program, Schlegel-UW Research Institute on Aging Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo

"Pitch perfect. The Long Hello is poignant, personal, and in many ways profound. As her story weaves between her life as a young girl being cared for by her mother and her adult life as a caregiver for her mother with Alzheimer’s, we see unimagined parallels and witness extraordinarily moving moments in the interactions between mother and daughter. The poetic cadences of their conversations are by turns humorous, unsettling, comforting, and deep; one senses a marvelous dance or an intriguing improvisation unfolding before one's eyes. The author has given us a vivid sense of the frustrations one faces in caring for a person with dementia, but she has also revealed, in and through her mother, a beautifully poetic sensibility and a mind full of wonder, curiosity, and keen observation." —Dr. Charles Morrison, former Dean of Music, Professor of Music Theory, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario

"Borrie writes beautifully . . . The Long Hello is honest, sensitive and poignant." —Henry Brodaty, Professor of Aging and Mental Health; Past Chair, Alzheimer's Disease International; Director, the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia

"A loving, dutiful daughter writes about her desperate confrontation with her mother's Alzheimer's disease. . . . Though she holds degrees in public health and law, her vocation is clearly creative nonfiction. . . . As Borrie presents them, her mother's non sequiturs, surely a badge of Alzheimer's, make a wonderful kind of poetry, mysterious and even witty . . . a short, poignant record of two lives, a moving history of a mother and her child." —Kirkus

"This is an excellent addition to public and consumer health library collections because it is not the typical caregiver manual. . . . An intensely intimate, literary tribute to a loving relationship that offers a glimpse into the demented mind." —Library Journal

"A deep, moving, glorious book." —The Book Doctors, Huffington Post

Library Journal
04/15/2016
Borrie, a nurse with degrees in public health and law, spent seven years caring for her mother as she coped with dementia and here tells the story of her chaotic home life with an alcoholic father, a mother who worked to support the family, a brother who died young, and a remote stepfather. She includes snippets of recorded conversations with her mother that provide a window into a mind altered by dementia: sometimes poetic, sometimes confused, occasionally lucid. She chronicles her mom's slow decline and death as well as her own reactions to the situation and the daily routines involving caregivers, detailing her experiences with warmth and compassion. This is an excellent addition to public and consumer health library collections because it is not the typical caregiver manual. VERDICT An intensely intimate, literary tribute to a loving relationship that offers a glimpse into the demented mind.—Barbara Bibel, formerly Oakland P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
2016-01-27
A loving, dutiful daughter writes about her desperate confrontation with her mother's Alzheimer's disease. Canadian author Borrie trained as a nurse, studied writing and theater arts, and competed as a dancer. Though she holds degrees in public health and law, her vocation is clearly creative nonfiction. Short passages, rendered in the immediacy of present tense, of childhood recollections and lonely adult life, alternate with conversations with an ailing parent. The memories of childhood are occasionally unhappy but more often idyllic. The brief passing scenes include the brutal death of a beloved teenage brother, a distant stepfather, and dismal days at boarding school. Borrie also recounts the halcyon days of gardening with her grandfather, boating with her mother, and enjoying tea and ginger snaps. Eventually, the mother-daughter bonding transformed into a deluge of dealing with her mother's prescriptions, and family and friends drifted away. The author was briefly married to a man with a handlebar mustache. (That's all we learn about the ephemeral husband). Ever more exhausted, Borrie, single again, visited her mother in her nursing home daily and talked with her many times a day until her mother was no longer able to use the phone. The author transcribes the conversations marked by her mother's stream of consciousness and confusion; she never forgot to call her daughter "love" and "lovey" even as she ultimately forgot her name and identity. As Borrie presents them, her mother's non sequiturs, surely a badge of Alzheimer's, make a wonderful kind of poetry, mysterious and even witty. Finally, her wandering thoughts could no longer be expressed properly. The denouement is, of course, inevitable: her mother passed away, and the grieving daughter must deal with the aftermath. Journal entries combine for a short, poignant record of two lives, a moving history of a mother and her child.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781628726640
Publisher:
Arcade Publishing
Publication date:
04/19/2016
Pages:
236
Sales rank:
695,973
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author


Cathie Borrie trained as a nurse in Vancouver and holds a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. She also graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in law, and she has studied creative writing at Simon Fraser University. She lives in North Vancouver.

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