Susan Thistle, a resident of Waldron Island, recently finished a book for her mother, internationally bestselling author Mary MacCracken, because her mother died before completing it. Coming out in late July, The Memory of All That (She Writes Press) tells the story of Mary’s love affair and long marriage to her brilliant husband, Cal—and of losing him to Alzheimer’s.
In this poignant memoir, which Kirkus Reviews calls “[a] moving and frank remembrance of love and loss,” Mary and Cal are so intensely drawn to each other that they leave their spouses, marry, and with each other’s support, turn their lives around. Cal, facing bankruptcy despite initial success as an inventor, comes up with one new idea after another. Mary, losing her job teaching autistic children, returns to college for her degree and sets up her own practice. Cal is called one of America’s most prolific inventors; Mary’s first book is published and sells widely, followed by three more. Love, for each other, their work, and their families, fills their lives.
But Cal’s keen mind begins to fail him. He forgets things, people he should know, even the way home. Faced with his diagnosis of dementia, the two draw on the same determination and belief in each other that marked their earlier years, finding ways to maintain their loving relationship despite the disease. Always a fighter, Cal announces they’ll defeat Alzheimer’s and write a book about it. Mary focuses on devising ways to help Cal retain a sense of self-worth and dignity as his memory fades. Realizing she can’t deal with his disease alone, she also seeks advice and support from good friends, doctors, and social workers. Cal worsens, but he and Mary still enjoy sweet moments; they stay close and loving until the end.
THE MEMORY OF ALL THAT provides a valuable understanding of Alzheimer’s for caregivers, their families, and friends, showing them the disease is not shameful or terrifying, but manageable. A deftly told account of how love can persist and console despite life’s ordeals, it will also appeal to anyone simply seeking a good story.
Mary’s daughter, Susan, a sociologist who taught at Friday Harbor Labs for several years, says finishing her mother’s book was like making a quilt. Her mother made all the squares and laid them out in a pattern. Susan added a few more, rearranged some, and stitched them all together.
An award-winning bestselling author, MARY MACCRACKEN wrote four earlier books about her work with autistic and learning-disabled children: Circle of Children, Lovey, City Kid, and Turn-About Children. Her books have been published in fourteen countries and the first two were made into movies for television, starring the actress Jane Alexander. Her books have recently been republished (the first and last under new titles, The Lost Children and A Safe Place for Joey) and still attract a wide readership.
Susan previously wrote a book of her own, a scholarly account of women’s lives published by an academic press called From Marriage to the Market: The Transformation of Women’s Lives and Work.
For more information visit https://marymaccracken.com
“A moving and frank remembrance of love and loss.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] beautifully told, heart-rending story . . . . Anyone caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another dementia should find valuable lessons and inspiration here.”—Robert B. Santulli, MD, author of The Emotional Journey of the Alzheimer’s Family and The Alzheimer’s Family: Helping Caregivers Cope
“[A] drama of a passionately committed relationship transformed by suffering and grace. Ultimately, Mary MacCracken shows us, the true triumph of the spirit is found in the resolve to love more fully in the face of certain debilitation and death. I was haunted by this poignant memoir.”—Alicia Hokanson, award-winning author of Perishable World and Mapping The Distance
"McCracken writes with honest poignancy in beautiful prose . . . . will help anyone who is dealing with Alzheimer’s as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about the disease and its profound effect on families."—Shawn LaTorre, StoryCircle Book Reviews
“A roadmap for sustaining love in the face of inevitable loss for any of us. Mary MacCracken is a skilled storyteller who knows how to turn this tale of wrenching heartbreak into a surprisingly uplifting memoir.”—Jan Maher, award-winning author of The Persistence of Memory and Other Stories, Earth as It Is, and Heaven, Indiana
“A moving account of one couple’s vibrant loving relationship, their courage in facing Alzheimer’s, and their fierce unwillingness to abandon any moment of shared happiness before the end. This poignant narrative also offers ways to handle the problems and difficult decisions faced by caregivers and their families.”—Nancy Dubler, LL.B, author of Alzheimer’s Dementia: Dilemmas in Clinical Research and Ethics on Call: A Medical Ethicist Shows How to Take Charge of Life-and-Death Choices
“The Memory of All That is a generous and stirring memoir. MacCracken’s gentle prose recounts her husband's decline into Alzheimer's and the toll it takes on them both. Her story, however, is not framed as tragedy but as a chronicle of married love—with no small share of laughter. Readers facing a similar journey will welcome this book with relief and hope.”—Christine Hemp, author of Wild Ride Home: Love, Loss, and a Little White Horse
"Mary MacCracken's book, The Memory of All That, is a love letter to her husband who had dementia. Here but gone; no longer as he used to be. Ambiguous loss, it's called, with both "upwelling sadness" and "scraps of joy." In a world of loss right now, we can find solace in MacCracken's beautifully written story about love and purpose.”—Pauline Boss, PH.D Author of Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope while Coping with Stress and Grief and The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change
RE: THE MEMORY OF ALL THAT: A Love Story about Alzheimer’s by Mary MacCracken
Publication date: July 2022
She Writes Press
ISBN 978-1-64742-417-6; 5.5 x 8.5”; Trade paperback; 179 pages; $16.95; Memoir
E-book ISBN: 978-1-64742-418-3; $9.95