Lesson of Love appealed to me for a number of reasons. The author, Prue Phillipson is a Northerner, born in Newcastle; as the North East has been my home for the last decade I like to read stories about the region or written by those in the area. Dementia is an important issue which affects so many; not just those unfortunate enough to live with the condition, but those who care for them and try and help them make sense of the scary and changing world that they find themselves living in. Working in the NHS, I encounter a lot of people whose lives have been impacted upon by dementia and I think it is important that it is a topic that is discussed rather than being a taboo. I am fortunate enough that none of my relatives have suffered from this condition but I am all too aware that it may come. As a doctor it is all too easy to give out advice but it is so important to try to understand the realities of living with or caring for someone with dementia and reading Lesson of Love gave me some insight into this.
Lesson of Love takes us through the last years of Prue’s mothers life, from moving into a bungalow very close by Prue’s family, through her deterioration from an independent, busy woman to one requiring assistance with the simplest of tasks. Prue had kept a diary throughout this time and she frequently puts little snippets from this into the book. Prue has a very close relationship with God and her Christian faith guides her through life. She frequently refers to prayer and mediation on Biblical passages during these years. I found it refreshing how unashamedly she writes about her faith and what it means to her and how she was able to seek comfort and guidance through the darkest of days when her mother could be unkind or difficult. At times Prue reflects that she might have done things differently but I think she judges herself too harshly – her story tells one of a kind, generous and devoted daughter dealing amazingly with a very challenging and heartbreaking situation.
Regardless of your faith, or perhaps a lack of, I think you would still enjoy and get a lot from Lesson of Love. None of us know if we will be personally affected by dementia but given that we are an ageing population, and one fifth of those over 80 will be affected, sadly the odds are that we might well be. Prue’s story is beautiful account of a heartbreaking situation. This is a short book but packs such a lot in and has given me a lot to think about.
Thank you to Prue, SilverWood Books and Anne for inviting me onto this blog tour. I hope this book gets widely read – I think we can all learn a lot from it.