A new year is dawning, and with it a new writing project.
I’m Tinky “Dakota” Weisblat, a writer and singer from Hawley, Massachusetts. I’ll be spending winters in Alexandria, Virginia, starting this winter.
The climate in Virginia is kinder to my mother Jan, with whom I live. Jan (I often call her Taffy) is 92 and has dementia.
Alexandria is also a welcoming place for us because my brother David and his family live here.
“Pulling Taffy” will chronicle my adventures with Taffy and the rest of the family in 2011.
In some ways, I expect, my mother and I are typical of parents and children dealing with Alzheimer’s. As The Shriver Report documented this past fall, most caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients are female. So are most of those for whom they care.
Nevertheless, as anyone who has dealt with Alzheimer’s or another family-centric disease can tell you, there is no such thing as typical when it comes to these matters.
Why did I start this writing project?
I’m a writer. Writing is how I process information–and I’m pretty good at it.
I hope that “Pulling Taffy” will help me document the progress of my mother’s disease and figure out ways in which to cope with it.
I also hope it will help me in my ongoing quest to remind myself that I have to take care of myself as well as my mother as the year goes on.
Last year, to tell you the truth, I generally let my mother’s disease overwhelm me. It progressed rapidly as the months went by, and I found myself increasingly withdrawing from the outside world in order to take care of Taffy.
This is good for neither of us. We both need the outside world. Despite her confusion about most of what goes on, Taffy adores seeing different people and visiting different places.
And I need to use my gifts—my brain, my writing, my singing—to remind both of us who we are. She doesn’t always remember, but I can.
Please join us on our journey in 2011. I promise my entries on this blog will not be uniformly serious! One of the greatest gifts of our household is that we never go through a day without laughter.