Field of Daises by Barbara Hattemer is an in-depth look into Alzheimer's and how it affected multiple generations of the main character's family. It really gave the book credibility to know that the author had first-hand family experience with the disease and was able to weave an interesting and poignant story on how to deal with it. To me this was an emotional book and it took me a while to finish it. I am glad I did and I really enjoyed how the main character grew in her faith and learned to rely on God and His blessings for families.
Field of Daisies is a heart wrenching story of a family struggling to cope with the ramifications of Alzheimer's. Before reading the story, I did not have a great knowledge of how Alzheimer's affects not only the patient, but the family as well. The reader is captivated into the lives of the characters and the story throughout. I found myself angry at the injustices as well as rejoicing at the victories. I would definitely recommend this book.
I received Field of Daisies from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
Field of Daisies is based on a true story of how Alzheimer's affects 3 generations in a family, how they cope with the disease, the impact it has on the family and their friends, a love story, a Spiritual journey that leads to hope and healing in God's Word.
Andrea Mulder, her husband Lans and their two children have a wonderful life that is about to change. They move closer to Andrea's parents so that Lans can work in the same office with her father. As they settle in their new home Lans is away more and more on business while Andrea cares for their home and children. Her mother tries to influence her in how she helps Lans in his business contacts and much more than Andrea wants.
Andrea's father dies suddenly leaving her mother alone and grieving. Now Lans is away on business even more since her father's death and their two children are away at college leaving Andrea alone to comfort her mother. Over time she notices changes in her mother that are alarming, symptoms of the dreaded disease Alzheimer that her great-grandparents and grandparents had when she was growing up now appear in her beloved mother. Her mother is difficult at the best at times, but Alzheimer's makes it even more challenging and takes a toll on her marriage when she moves in with them.
As the disease progresses, Andrea's marriage suffers greatly to the point that Lans moves out of the house leaving Andrea alone to care for her mother. Her mother does not want Andrea out of her sight and needs constant watching to keep her safe. Andrea seeks advice from her mother-in-law and together they seek medical help for her mother. After taking her to a facility to be tested and hopefully cured, Andrea is tested too at the suggestion of the doctor there. The test results bring shocking news to Andrea, news that she thought she would never hear.
Andrea misses her husband and his support but he does not want to come home as long as his mother-in-law is there. Over the next months Andrea remembers how she and Lans met, fell in love and married and longs for his return but does not see that ever happening now.
As Andrea and her mother return home with a plan things continue to fall apart. Not knowing where else to turn she returns to God, taking her on a Spiritual journey, searching God's Word for answers, comfort, hope, healing and direction. This however turns out to be the best "medicine" she could have sought, not only for how she cares for her mother but herself and her marriage as well.
This story is well written, sharing the difficult times caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, the impact it has not only on the person it attacks but the family as well. But there is hope, which Andrea found in the Lord and His blessings on her life as well as her marriage.
My husband's cousin's mother suffered with Alzheimer's for years so I have seen first hand how it affects someone with it but the family as well.
"I received this book from bookfun.org in return for my honest opinion"
This is a beautiful story of a marriage, from their first meeting as teenagers on through becoming empty-nesters. Andrea and Lans are sure that nothing life might send their way could damage the strength of their bond. However, this is also the story of a horrible monster that threatens to destroy that marriage. It is not infidelity or substance abuse. The monster is Alzheimer's.
Andrea is the sole-caregiver when the monster consumes her mother as it had other members of her family tree. The heart-breaking effects of the disease cause Andrea to question God and alienate her husband, Lans. He grows tired and angry with her placing her mother's needs before his. In a world where Alzheimer's and dementia affect so many families, this was a relevant and touching examination of the issues of dealing with a disease that steals the loved one's personality and independence long before the physical body declines.
The characters are fully developed and the ravages of Alzheimer's painfully described. I have had personal experience with round-the-clock caregiving and could easily feel Andrea's emotional and physical exhaustion. The conflict she feels between her duty to her mother and the wishes of her husband compound her misery. The book is not all dreary, however, as the flashbacks to Andrea's happy childhood and the love story of Andrea and Lans are interspersed throughout the book, and their joy and peace and hope balance the sense of doom the disease brings. Then comes the reminder that no matter what the problems and heartaches life brings, God is with us through them.
This book is highly recommended -to anyone. I received it from The Book Club Network in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.
"Settling her on the bench, Lans faced her as if he were ready to do battle. Searching her brilliant blue eyes, he found them enchanting, the color of an ocean on a sunny day. They sparkled with sunlight in the daytime and candlelight at night. Whatever time or condition of the day, they invited him to join in their fun. Her eyes exuded a warmth he did not have. His was an analytical mind. Good at figures, at problem solving, he lacked the depth of compassion he found in Andrea. When she invited him into her world, he experienced more of life. He felt complete, Realizing he needed her, he could not let her go this time.
Andrea interrupted his thoughts. "Will you stay here after you graduate?"
"I had thought about it, but now I'm not sure. I wasn't prepared for how I felt when I saw that Chico character sweep you into his arms. Since then I haven't been able to think about anything but how easy it would be to lose you again. If I stay here, I'll leave you vunerable to all those crazy American boys."
Andrea glanced at Lans and laughed. "You must be joking."
He studied her in complete seriousness.Did she feel what he was feeling, an inexpressable yearning that had built mysteriously inside him in all their years of trying to spend time together? A yearning he had crushed down until he thought it had gone away. "I know it's been alot of years in between, Andrea, and we haven't spent much more than a month together overall, but there were all those letter and all those years trying to get together when we were younger."
"Yes, it seems I've known you all my life," Andrea spoke in little more than a whisper.
I don't know what happened that changed things between us that weekend at Dartmouth. I thought you had changed."
"I've always been the same, Lans. It was you who changed. It was like you were someone else. College had gone to your head and you were trying to fit in with all the kids from boarding schools. The boy who had loved the simple pleasures at the farm seemed to have died. I was heartbroken. And when I told you I had decided to go to Smith to be near you, you didn't say a thing. You left me thinking you couldn't have cared less."
His heart panged as he thought how much he must have hurt her. "Since you were already commited, I didn't know how to tell you I wouldn't be there. Nothing worked out that weekend, and I didn't know how to deal with it, so I didn't." He turned to her again. "I'm sorry if I hurt you, Andrea. I didn't want to."
"After this week, it doesn't hurt anymore." She smiled at him. "This week has erased all those sad memories."
The tightness in his throat relaxed, and his heart flip-flopped. He took her in his hands. Then, fumbling into his pocket, he withdrew a small box and handed it to her. "They don't have fraternities here, so I don't have a pin to give you, but I want you to wear this promise ring. It's a promise that I'll come back to the States as soon as I graduate so we can spend time with each other and explore a future together. Are you willing to commit to that, Andrea? I'm in no position to offer you anything more than that right now, but I want you to know that you're still the only girl I've ever thought about spending my life with. I can't bear the thought of losing you before we have a chance to see it it can work. Will you accept it? It means no impetuous eloping with Chico or his like."
"Oh there's only one like him. And there's only one like you. I'd be thrilled to wear your ring and explore a future together when you come home." Her eyes sparkled as he slipped the ring onto her finger.
"I can't believe this is happening after all these years and in Paris, of all places. I always dreamed it would be at the farm."
"Then you didn't give up on me these three and a half years?"
"No, I tried to tell myself it was over, but something deep inside wouldn't let go."
"I'm grateful," he said. Taking her in his arms and holding her close, he kissed the top of her forehead and nuzzled his face in her hair."
Meet The Characters:
Andrea Mulder: Andrea was a very free-spirited girl that turned into a very strong woman. Starved for family time with her parents, she turned to her grandparents for the constant love and affection she craved. Time on her grandparent's farm became her oasis.
Lans Mulder: I was very torn about my feelings for Lans. While he was a very loving husband and devoted to his kids and Andrea in most ways, he wasn't there for Andrea when she needed him most. I was appalled at his selfishness at times. Needless to say, he was not my idea of a storybook hero.
Evelyn Collins: Andrea's mother who later suffered from Altzheimer's. She was a socialite that traveled the world with her husband but, in the end, became a huge disruption to Andrea's life due to her disease.
Katharine Mulder: Lans mother and Andrea's best friend. Katharine was a very understanding and compassionate lady. She was there to help Andrea through some of the toughest times in her life.
Fritz and Laura Klinghof: Andrea's grandparents, Fritz and Laura, gave Andrea the "paternal love" she so desperately needed. Fritz's eyes always sparkled with life and Laura was always ready with the hugs Andrea longed for.
Andrea met Lans when both their parents met at the farm for a three week work session. Both their fathers were writing a book together and the farm offered the peace and relaxation they needed. Andrea dreaded having to entertain Lans but soon found herself enjoying his company. Both grew up missing time spent with their parents and soon realized they had alot in common. When the three weeks came to an end, it ended with a promise, a promise that they would see each other again. Through the course of several years they managed to keep in contact through letters and a few hap-hazard visits. One thing that was obvious throughout the entire book was the bond they shared and their love that would last a lifetime.
When Andrea's mother entered the first stages of Altzheimer's, life seemed to go on as normal as possible for her family but Evelyn soon progressed to the point that it took Andrea's ever waking moment to care for her. Lans had a very hard time dealing with the strain it put on their marriage but, through it all, love prevailed.
I really enjoyed this book. It had me in tears several times and there were several scenes I could have chosen as my favorite. However, I chose a happier scene to share. I'll let you save your tears for later when you read the book for yourself. It really opens the eyes of the reader about Altzheimer's, the way the disease progresses and the stress it has on the families involved. The only negative thing I can say is, although I am a Christian, I felt like the last quarter of the book went from being a novel to being a Bible study. It felt like the entire focus of the book shifted. Having said that, I am glad I read it. Field Of Daisies had me in tears three quarters of the way through, and I hope you will check it out for yourself.
Field Of Daisies is a story of love lost and found but, most importantly, it deals with Altzheimer's Disease and the effects it has, not only on the person with the disease, but also on all those around them. It can cause a great strain in families and sometimes rip families apart. The patient deals with memory loss, loss of alot of their normal mental functions, but also the loss of their dignity. Altzheimer's generally effects those 65 or older but there is younger onset Altzheimer's that can effect people in their 40's and 50's. For more information go to http://www.alz.org/