Wilhoit pens second book

Published 10:47 am Friday, January 23, 2009

Mary Wilhoit’s latest book, “As She Was Dying,” is a powerful revelation of the years she cared for her mother who had Alzheimer’s.

“It was a very painful story to write and unlike most accounts of caring for ill family members, it’s not a sweet story; it’s a true story,” Wilhoit said.

While reading, one might imagine having a cup of coffee with a best friend as she emotionally confides her deepest concerns and frustrations. The writer is candid, descriptive, and explicit, leaving nothing to the imagination. She writes not for the queasy, but for those who can relate through a like experience or are thinking of assuming the role of caretaker for an Alzheimer’s patient.

For five years Wilhoit and her youngest son devoted their lives to the care of her mother. Wilhoit was an only child. She and her mother were not particularly close and that made the job even more difficult. As she, herself, became more disturbed and recognized the effect her mother’s care had on her family, she began recording her experiences on a message board for therapy. Readers encouraged her to combine those entries into a journal for publication; hence the book was born.

Wilhoit emphasizes that she was totally unprepared for the task she was assigned; she had no training as a nurse or caregiver. Throughout the book though she writes with a learned understanding of the effects of the disease.

“Sometimes, however, she does pay attention to what you tell her to do. At others, it means nothing at all. Her only world seems to be inside her head and is concerned with what she thinks she is going to try to do. Or, maybe, it’s a matter of a pattern of random impulses that move her accordingly,” Wilhoit wrote.

“As She Was Dying” is the well-written, unvarnished story of a time of life few will talk about. But perhaps it should be required reading, not only for potential caregivers, but for those preparing for their own older years.

Wilhoit’s writing career was interrupted as she reared her family and taught at the University of Montevallo. She has written plays for children and a first novel, “Hadleyville Nights.” Currently she is working on a sequel to that book.

“As She Was Dying” can be purchased at The House of Serendipity in Montevallo, Barnes & Noble and at Amazon.com.

Catherine Legg can be reached at clegg2@bellsouth.net.