The first time I met Dot, she met me with a vibrant personality. She told me that I should know that when I left, she was going to write notes about our visit. At first, I was concerned about why she thought she needed to keep notes, but I encouraged her to do so. She then told me that she keeps notes about everything that happens in her life so she can write her book. I was intrigued and we talked for a bit about her love of writing. She shared some poetry and showed me her stack of notebooks. She pulled one out and flipped through the pages. She stopped on one page and her eyes teared up a bit. She read some of it out loud. It was about the birth of one of her great grandchildren. It had been a difficult birth for the mother, and she had included her emotions and prayers for the mother and child in the notes. I told her I would definitely read her book. We talked about how she could start writing the book and we came up with a couple of options where she could record her thoughts and someone else would type up the dictation for her. Based on the medical records I reviewed, I saw that this was an important project as she was facing some cognitive loss and I really wanted to see this happen.
On one visit, we looked at the manuscript that was developing and I told her that I had done some research myself and learned that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her first book at age 65. Lorna Page wrote her first novel at 93 years old, and it brought in enough income to buy a large home and invite some of her friends from the assisted living to move in and live in a more comfortable, homey environment.
Dot enjoyed the project, and it gave her a purpose. Her cognitive abilities began to decline rapidly, and she started to become frustrated with the project as she was forgetting the information surrounding the notes she wrote. She eventually forgot about the project. While it seems like that would be sad, her family was blessed with the stories she was able to get down for them and they had all the notebooks in which she had written detailed notes. The gift of family history she left them was priceless. Several of the grandchildren have been working on typing, scanning, and photographing the information that she had kept.
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