A Mythical Interview with Betty Ward

Please welcome Elaine Pereira as Wednesday’s Guest this week. She had some fun with a mock interview with her mother, Betty Ward, whom Elaine refers to as “the heroine” of her recently released memoir. Sunday I reviewed her book, I Will Never Forget, in which she shared the journey she took with her mother throughout her life, most especially in the years that her mother suffered with dementia.  I thought Elaine and her mother might like a Danish and a cup of coffee while they visit. You can join them. There’s more in the kitchen to share. 

Photo Courtesy of Gluten-Free Canteen where you can find lots of gluten-free recipes.

    Thank you, Maryann for inviting us here today and for the refreshments. First I’d like to just give a quick introduction to my mother. In 1945 she graduated with a BS in chemistry then went to work at Upjohn CO in Kalamazoo, MI where she met and married my father, Wayne Ward. They had three children before Betty went back to school for her masters in education. The ‘Life is Good Years’ continued until my father’s stroke in 1995, followed in 2004 by both his death and my brother Jerry’s, and finally my mother’s rapid decent into dementia. 

From the ashes of her eventual passing arose I Will Never Forget.  I hope you enjoy meeting my mother in this brief interview in which I pretended to be a reporter.

ECP:   You and Wayne had three children, two sons Gerald and David and a daughter
Elaine.  Tell me a little about her. 

BW:  Elaine was adorable but spunky and always testing the limits.  I use to say about her and at times to her: “There was a little girl who had a curl right in the middle of her forehead.  When she was good she was very good, but when she was bad she was horrid”

ECP:   That’s funny!  She did stay “horrid?” 

BW:    No, but she did remain spunky, which was an asset when I needed an advocate to speak for me when I no longer could. 

ECP:   Despite being Catholic, you have some liberal views on certain issues.  Tell us what you don’t agree with?

BW:    I had three children on the rhythm method of birth control so obviously that doesn’t work. Also, I wanted to have our daughter’s name be Elaine but was told by some opinionated nun that there was no Saint Elaine so I couldn’t use it.  Back then the church was pretty strict about using names of saints for our children. We had just buried our 20 month-old son David in August so the idea that the Church would dictate our child’s name while we were experiencing such unspeakable grief, was unacceptable.  Our Parish Priest however overruled the nun indicating that Elaine is a derivative of St. Bernadette.  I laughed! 

Lastly, I am not an advocate of pro-active measures to end life prematurely but I strongly support a quality of life.

ECP: How sad that you lost your son. What happened?

BW:  It was a car accident. I was four months pregnant with Elaine when it happened, killing little David. The rest of us were injured and the accident created financial devastation. The only thing I could be thankful for was that I didn’t lose the baby I was carrying.

ECP:   You mentioned Elaine was your voice when you couldn’t advocate for yourself.  Can you tell us more about that time?

BW:    Well due to Alzheimer’s, I don’t remember everything (Ha!) but she was my rock!  At times when the dementia fog lifted though, I knew everything she was doing for me and thanked her.  When reciprocal communication was beyond my control I “spoke” with my eyes and she listened.

ECP:    You wandered from your care facilities on two occasions with dire consequences. 

BW:    The first time I thought I needed to take the groceries out of the trunk.  It was a crazy, misguided notion because I didn’t have a car anymore, wasn’t driving and hadn’t gone grocery shopping in the middle of the night. Alzheimer’s really plays terrible tricks on your mind!  I fell hard outside and couldn’t get up.

The last time, my dementia-induced hallucinations had me seeing my own mother, a wonderful woman who died when I was in my 30s.  I felt compelled to find her, thinking she was across the street and needed me to take care of her.  On a cold winter night, wearing only thin red flannel pajamas, I was able to wander out the front door of my locked facility because someone forgot to reset the alarm.  Five hours later I was found literally near frozen to death in severe hypothermia. 

ECP:    Tell us how you feel about having your life immortalized in a memoir. 

BW:  Unlike Elaine who shines in the limelight, I’m more private.  She has my blessing though because the intent of her book is to support others on their journey through dementia as well as supporting Alzheimer’s awareness.

She and I have always been able to express ourselves verbally and in writing with passion, integrity and honesty.

I am proud that Elaine’s legacy is telling this story, one that had to be told, as it is everyone’s story. I am especially proud that she donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of I Will Never Forget to support Alzheimer’s research.

Don’t forget the big sale at Untreed Reads where you can get 30% off all romance titles, from sweet to steamy. Perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone in your life who likes to read. My Play It Again, Sam is one of the books on sale now through Valentine’s Day.

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