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Time to Let Go is a contemporary family drama set in Britain.
Following a traumatic incident at work Stewardess Hanna Korhonen decides to take time off work and leaves her home in London to spend quality time with her elderly parents in rural England. There she finds that neither can she run away from her problems, nor does her family provide the easy getaway place that she has hoped for. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and, while being confronted with the consequences of her issues at work, she and her entire family are forced to reassess their lives.
The book takes a close look at family dynamics and at human nature in a time of a crisis. Their challenges, individual and shared, take the Korhonens on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.
“This story has me in tears because the author truly understands and makes the story relate to everyone.”
“This book may be Fischer’s best yet. I read it in one afternoon and literally could not put it down.”
“Having once worked in a hospital dedicated to the care of Alzheimer’s patients, I was both compelled and interested in reading Time To Let Go. What I found was a heart-felt and realistic story of a family that began before the disease took hold of its matriarch and would need to find a way to go on as she deteriorated. Family relationships are tested and dynamics examined and understood as the characters in this story adjust to the mother’s illness and each member is thrust into the roles she once filled. Outdated ideas and preconceptions are abandoned and what is left are the basics that make a family whole — love, loyalty, and the strength to allow each other to grow, change, and even die in an environment of acceptance. This book is a testament to those things and to the amazing ability that families, even ones with dysfunction, have to blossom into something that continues on even in the face of the loss of those who shaped them.”
Excerpt from the book:
For the next half hour he watched his wife as she was talking to and feeding the ducks in a pond in a nearby park. This was a very quiet time of day for the birds. School children were at class and mothers with young ones seemed to come out here a little later than this: the pond was all hers. It amazed him how much joy and entertainment his wife could gain from such a simple thing as feeding the ducks.
Her zest for life still showed frequently and sometimes even seemed completely unbroken by the disease. When she was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease she had desperately tried to fight it and in the process she had suffered a lot. She had read all the books there were, taken supplements and tried to train her brain with exercises.
“Come to bed,” Walter had said to her one evening when she had spent several hours in the study with her brain teasers.
“But I must solve this puzzle,” Biddy shot back at him. “I can’t finish unless I get this right.”
“Do it tomorrow, love.”
“No,” Biddy hissed. “I need to do it now.”
“You are probably too tired to solve it tonight. You need sleep more than this exercise,” Walter tried again.
“Mind your own business,” she yelled and slammed her fist on the table.
Walter was so surprised at this uncharacteristic outburst; he stood frozen and had no reply ready. While he struggled to come up with a response to this unprecedented shouting over nothing Biddy doubled over on the desk and started to sob.
“I can’t do it, Walter,” she cried. “I just can’t do it.”
“You don’t need to do everything today. Do it tomorrow.”
“That’s not just it, Walter. I’ve forgotten something else but I can’t remember what it is. I know it is something really important that I must do. I should have written it down.”
Walter walked up to her and tried to hug her.
“Get off me,” she screamed and yanked his hand away. “You don’t know what it is like. Don’t patronise me!”
Walter wanted to shout back at her, to make her snap out of her mood, but he was just too surprised to think of what he could possibly say. His wife had never pushed him away before.
He left her in the study and went to bed. Biddy stayed up for hours turning the house upside down for clues as to what she had forgotten. He did not sleep a wink that night and many more to follow when his wife was on a mission to locate a misplaced item.
Fortunately, they eventually passed that very awkward period of her life and these days she no longer seemed to care and no longer wasted her time in agony over the spilled beans of her mind. He wondered if that was part of her complex drug regime. He suspected that the doctors had slipped her an anti-depressant or a sedative of sorts into her cocktail of daily pills. He would rather not know and so he never asked about it and only ever read the dosage instructions on the prescription sheet.
Biddy’s manners these days were innocent and childlike, just the way she had always been. Her optimism and her famous positive attitude had been the core of her character and she had helped many of her friends and family to overcome crisis after crisis with her unbreakable spirit.
Watching her being happy and joyful while feeding the stupid ducks he felt that for a moment everything was just as it always had been. He could see the young woman he had married underneath the wrinkles, the white hair and behind the blank stare she often had these days when she got confused.
Right now the bright light of her essence was visible and it warmed Walter on the inside. Such moments gave him the necessary strength to accept the things he was missing from his married life of late.
My book is inspired by personal experiences with sufferers from the disease. Nowadays, almost everyone knows someone who has relatives with Alzheimer’s Disease and gradually stories and anecdotes about these patients have entered the social dinner party circuit and become common knowledge.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a dreadful disease that cannot be easily understood in its gravity and the complex, frustrating and far reaching consequences for the victims and their families. There are different stages of the disease as it progresses and patients can move through them at different paces and in varying intensity. My book does not attempt to be a complete representation or a manual of how to deal with the disease. The illness affects every patient differently and there are many stories to tell and many aspects to cover. I hope that I can bring some of those issues to the surface and help to make the gravity of the disease more prominent. I did, however, decide to stay firmly in fiction and family drama territory, and not to write a dramatized documentary on the subject.
I have witnessed several different approaches to handling the disease by both individuals and entire families, and I have learned that the people involved in every case needs to work out what is best for them. In my book, a family work out their particular approach, which is right for them. They have different ideas about it and need to battle it out. These clashes fascinated me and I felt they were worth exploring.
Issues of caring at home, mobile care assistance or institutionalising patients are personal and, depending on where in the world you are, every family has very different options or limitations. The ending in my book must be seen in that context: as an individual ‘best’ solution that uniquely fits the Korhonen family.
As point of first reference and for a more comprehensive and scientific overview of information and help available I recommend: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/ in the UK, and http://www.alz.org/ in the US.
There are support groups, helplines and many other sources available in most countries. These will be able to advise specifically for each individual situation.
I can also recommend “Because We Care” by Fran Lewis. This fantastic book has a comprehensive appendix with more or less everything you need to know about the disease: Its stages, personal advice on caring, information, tools and help available in the US.
For consistency, I exclusively used material relating to a medium advanced stage of the disease. To protect the privacy and dignity of the patients that inspired the story I have altered all of the events and used both first and second hand experiences and anecdotes. Nothing in this book has actually happened in that way. Apart from some outer parallels between my characters and patients I witnessed, any similarities with real people, alive or dead, are coincidental and unintended.
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline.. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; ‘Sebastian’ in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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