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Alice's EmbraceApril 27, 2014

Hi, friends. 

I've been a little quiet 'round here because I'm finishing the book that will be out next year from Penguin. I love it. (Yep, writers say that even though it's embarrassing. It's like a mom with a kid who's been playing in the mud. We don't want to admit we love our scraggly little unkempt beasts out loud, but then it just comes out. No take backs. This is after, of course, we've spent months hating it. That's probably less motherlike.) 

So this next book, Splinters of Light, is about a 44-year-old woman with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. It's also about twins and sisters and motherhood and love and death and all the good stuff, but my focus of research has been on EOAD and how really badly it sucks

So when I got an email out of the blue from Diane Lewis about the project she was starting, it felt like fate. (I truly wish I could participate in all the emails I get asking for help. I can't. I'm sorry. But I can do this.) 

Mom in SF - the look

Alice, saying, "Well, are you coming or not?!" 

From Diane's site: 

Not everyone can say that their mom was their best friend, but I can. I think back to how incredibly lucky I was to have her as my mom and it makes me smile. We spoke on the phone or saw each other every day. Being with my mom was like being in the most comfortable place one can imagine. She was HOME for me. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in November of 2005. I (and my three siblings) kind of became her mom as the disease progressed. We made sure she was healthy and happy. Making her smile was always a highlight of our visits.

Alice Figueira, my beautiful mom, passed away on May 29, 2011 from Alzheimer's Disease.

While my mom was in the midst of her disease I knit her a beautiful sage green blanket. Throughout the years that blanket provided her with warmth and comfort. Countless times I would visit her and she had the blanket on her and her fingers were intertwined in the stitches. It not only provided comfort in it giving her warmth, but also keeping her hands busy. Over the years it moved from her recliner to her lap when she was in a wheelchair and then ultimately to her bed.

After Mom passed away I wanted to help others who suffer from this dreadful disease. I knew that I wanted to start an organization to gather people who knit and crochet and ask them to create lap blankets and prayer shawls.

Isn't that so heart-breakingly lovely? My mom was also my best friend (she was only lost in dementia for less than a week and I will never forget how helpless and hopeless we felt), and I want to put out the call for this. 

Diane is collecting shawls and lap blankets and distributing them to others with Alzheimer's who could use something cozy and loving to hold. Not only that, but she's put out free patterns (all with their own sweet stories -- go look! I love Birds on a Wire) that are just awesome. 

And darling Diane would like for us to use her free patterns (rather than a shawl pattern that was your grandmother's favorite--although that is so CUTE) because: "When I deliver them, each and every person in the memory care unit will get one so we don't want to cause hurt feelings because someone else's is lacy or more fancy." Great idea, I think. 

See her site for lots of great details and patterns and yarn suggestions (wash and driable, not nubby in texture, etc). 

I'm committing to knitting one, right here. I love the idea that as I bring this book to a close, I'll be helping someone now, today, struggling with an awful disease. 

How about you? You in? 

OH HELL, I JUST LOST MY DAMN MIND. If you knit/crochet something for this and send it to Diane, I'll enter you in a drawing for a light yellow shawl I knitted that is currently hanging on my dressmaker's dummy, never worn (or blocked, for that matter, lazybones that I am). It takes a while to do this, I know, so I'll extend the contest till the end of August. Email me with a pic when you send it (I'll trust you if you say you did it--I just greedily want to see your gorgeous shawls/lap blankets) and you'll be entered. 

Mwah, lovelies. Thank you. 



I have two shawllettes I knit and never wore. I'll send those tomorrow. My we lost my grandfather to AD 4 years ago and he was amazing.

Is it fate? As you know, I'm the primary caregiver for my mom, who is in the early to middle stages of Alzheimers. While she can no longer knit or follow a pattern, she can crochet simple things. I've been getting her yarn every week to make baby blankets and lap robes. She loves doing it and it makes her happy. She currently cranks out about 3 a week - she's nothing if not prolific. :) I've been putting them all in a bin until I ran into the perfect place to donate a lot of them. I'm pretty sure this would be it. (And as a bonus, my mom's name is also Diane.)Thank you so much for posting this Rachael. I'll be contacting Diane right away and can send her quite a few. Thank you again!!

One of my uncles had AD. It was awful. Symptoms started right before my grandma died, but it was so early, we didn't know until years later that that was the reason he was so awful to Mother over settling Grandma's estate.

My mother was my best friend, too (and, at times, my worst enemy, as they can be), and I'd made her a shawl to wear while she was losing her fight with cancer.

I watched the tribute video made for Alice on Diane's site, and it hit me right in the feels. I'm so awful with deadlines that I won't promise (so I won't disappoint myself), but I am certainly very inspired to try to make a shawl for this mission.

I will as soon as my dislocated finger heals.

My maternal grandmother, who I was very close to, had AD. She lived with my parents for the last 5 or so years of her life. I still miss her, and knitting a lap blanket in her memory will be an honor. I just went and got the yarn. :-) Thanks for posting this.

A wonderful cause and I am in. I will enjoy knitting or crocheting these shawls with the patterns provided at the Alice's Embrace blog knowing some special person with AD will find comfort as they are wrapped with my love.

My Father had Alzheimer's Disease, he died of Lung Cancer but the AD became so much worse while he was on Chemo. I grieved so much when he was in the last stages of life. I had always been Daddy's girl, he called me Babe. I didn't thing I could possibly give him up. But then one afternoon I took my son to see him. Tim had been the apple of my Daddy's eye, he was 6 when Daddy died. When Tim walked into the room my Daddy didn't know him. Tim stood there pleading, It's me Granddaddy, Tim, it's me. I was ready at that moment for my Daddy to be in heaven. He would never have wanted to live in a world without that little boy. I work in a Vascular Lab, I see this vicious disease so often. It's heartbreaking. What a wonderful project this is.

Thank you all for such heartfelt comments. Sarah, I totally agree with you thinking I could possibly never give up my mom either. I remember being so afraid of losing her. The saddest thing is there comes a time when you just tell them that they're in your heart and you're in theirs and you always will be. Giving them the okay to let go and have peace. Even though this was one of the hardest sentences I've ever had to say....I swear when I did say it to Mom I could see her almost breathe a sigh of relief. It might have been my imagination, but I like to think it did give her peace. I know this disease has touched so many lives. I truly hope that Alice's Embrace brings comfort to those who still suffer.

I'm going to find yarn in my stash. My mom has AD, she has lived with us for 4 years. It is at the middle to last stage. My oldest daughter cares for her while my husband and I work. She has always been my best friend, it is heart breaking to see her disappear in this illness.

I'm really glad i found this!!! I've been making my mom a lap blanket to take to her doctor appointents. This will be an honor to donate to this great cause!

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