This is the first time I am using this meme which is originally hosted by Hoarding Books. The idea is to share the first few lines of a book you are reading or have recently read and then present it.
The first lines:
The year before my father died, he came with us to Sweden for the summer. He had been living with his dementia for over ten years by then, and – mildly, sweetly, uncomplainingly – he was gradually disappearing, memories falling away, words going, recognition fading, in the great unravelling.
The book is The Last Ocean: a journey through memory and forgetting by Nicci Gerrard.
Synopsis from the publisher:
From the award-winning journalist and author, a lyrical, raw and humane investigation of dementia that explores both the journeys of the people who live with the condition and those of their loved ones
After a diagnosis of dementia, Nicci Gerrard’s father, John, continued to live life on his own terms, alongside the disease. But when an isolating hospital stay precipitated a dramatic turn for the worse, Gerrard, an award-winning journalist and author, recognized that it was not just the disease, but misguided protocol and harmful practices that cause such pain at the end of life. Gerrard was inspired to seek a better course for all who suffer because of the disease.
The Last Ocean is Gerrard’s investigation into what dementia does to both the person who lives with the condition and to their caregivers. Dementia is now one of the leading causes of death in the West, and this necessary book will offer both comfort and a map to those walking through it. While she begins with her father’s long slip into forgetting, Gerrard expands to examine dementia writ large. Gerrard gives raw but literary shape both to the unimaginable loss of one’s own faculties, as well as to the pain of their loved ones. Her lens is unflinching, but Gerrard honors her subjects and finds the beauty and the humanity in their seemingly diminished states.
In so doing, she examines the philosophy of what it means to have a self, as well as how we can offer dignity and peace to those who suffer with this terrible disease. Not only will it aid those walking with dementia patients, The Last Ocean will prompt all of us to think on the nature of a life well lived.
He was very happy on that holiday. he was a man who had a deep love for the natural world and felt at home in it; he knew the names of English birds and insects, wildflowers and trees.
When I was a child, I remember him taking me to listen to the dawn chorus in the woods near our house. Standing under the canopy of trees in the bright wash of sound, he would tell me which song was the mistle thrush and which the blackbird.
At least, I think I remember this, but perhaps I make it up as a story to tell myself when I am sad.
The Last Ocean is poignant and tender, and like many amazing non-fiction books may go unnoticed, although it is extremely pertinent in our aging world.
- Have you read this book or is it on your tbr? Do you read a lot of non-fiction?
- Are you familiar with Nicci Gerrard’s work?
- What is the best book (fiction or non-fiction) dealing with the topic of aging you have read recently?