About the Book

Photo by John Connelly

Love in the Time of Dementia

A Memoir in Essays

No human experience is without meaning or unworthy of analysis.” – Primo Levi

This site grew out of the work I’ve done on my memoir-in-essays, Love in the Time of Dementia. My book challenges society’s fears of dementia and the assumed erasure of selfhood. The essays explore the endurance of self and of love as a man, a woman, and a marriage evolve over years of difficult losses and surprising gains. The essays interweave our story with fairy tales, neuroscience, mythology, medical research, cultural anthropology, philosophy, and theology.

The initial pieces introduce the four main “characters”: My husband (Dick Cain), me, our marriage, and dementia. The other sections are largely chronological. They describe the progression of the dementia, from our initial unease about Dick’s memory concerns, through the conflicted middle stage of the disease, to an acceptance we both arrived at during the latter stages. It ends with his death.

My husband’s words—either spoken or written over the seventeen years of his decline—serve as the titles of the essays.

Why essays? Essays are like discrete rooms within a large edifice; they’re small enough to explore without getting lost. They invite my curiosity and grant me the freedom to delve into information and ideas. They challenge me to be as attuned to the sounds and rhythms of language as I was when writing verse. Shaping a voice on the page appeals to me, perhaps because I love music.

Because I grew up in a small Midwestern town, for years I hesitated to write because I doubted  my authority (“Who am I to say?”). Then a dear friend of ours urged me: “You need to write about this! Most people are so afraid of dementia, but you and Dick still have so much love and joy in your lives.” I’d written a few essays in the past, but I still didn’t believe in my authority as a writer. The many years of living with my husband’s dementia granted me that authority.

Anne-Marie Erickson is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. 198d0e421a54ce26e99fa31b86fadb5c

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