Thursday, August 30, 2012


 I was thrilled when I heard that the lovely people at Readers Digest wanted to condense Alzheimer's: A Love Story for their Encounters series. I'd heard of Readers Digest, of course, and of their condensed books, but I'd never heard of the Encounters series. The first thing I did was head across to wise old Mrs Google.

This is what she told me:
Encounters are series of condensed books published by Reader's Digest. Each Encounters volume contains four of today's most up-to-date non-fiction stories about real life people and events. The stories have been skilfully edited, illustrated with colour photographs and bound into one striking hardcover book to bring the secrets, wisdom and amazing truths about other people's lives into your home.

The editors at Reader's Digest hand-select the most fascinating of today's unforgettable true stories from Australia, New Zealand and overseas, with memoirs, adventure, true crime, behind-the-headlines, touching stories about nature—and human nature—that will surprise and move you.
Did you read that? 'the most fascinating of today's unforgettable true stories?' That's me! How great is that!

It's an honour that the editors of Readers Digest chose my memoir; the company has a long history and an enormous readership. And I could see how my story would fit their series. But I must admit I was nervous about what condensing would do to my book. What would they leave out? Would what they left make sense?

My copies arrived and I ripped open the box. There was my book pictured at the bottom right of the cover. It was very exciting. But every time I tried to read it I felt sick. Crazy, I know, but it was how I felt. It's often difficult for me to read my own work but this felt worse than usual.

Finally I decided to plunge in by reading the other books in the volume in order, as though I were an ordinary reader. That was easy to do and rewarding because they're fascinating stories about remarkable and brave people. I was proud that my parents' story would be read alongside these others.

It was easy then to read my own work in this new context. Somehow seeing it here set amongst other stories of understated heroism, highlights my father's quiet courage and determination. It made me remember his motto: The difference between the possible and the impossible is the measure of man's will.

None of the people in this volume of Encounters would see themselves as heros. Accidental heros at most. But not everyone reacts the way they did when confronted with difficult realities.

The truth is that heroism is rare. I'm proud of my father and proud of my book and proud to be included in this volume. Thanks, Reader's Digest for selecting me.