More About the Author
Welcome to my Author Page,
My mother, Shirley Burdick, was the inspiration for my Two-Lap Books.
Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1998. I would visit my mother frequently, and though she had virtually stopped speaking in the later stages of the disease, I was very happy to be with my mother and sit and eat and watch tv, and flip though magazines together.
One fateful day, I gave Mom a magazine to "read" while I brought us something to drink, and I found myself wondering what exactly was she doing with that magazine?! I knew if I were to ask her if she was reading, she would nod her head.
I determined to find out for myself by sitting down and reading something with her.
I set out to find some reading material that would be uplifting and loving and delightful and appropriate for my mother and I to read together, so I could see if my mother, in late stage dementia, could still, in fact, read.
Dear Reader, I didn't find anything. Oh, I found children's books (not appropriate I felt), I was ushered to the young adult section of a major bookstore (not appropriate either), and I thought about magazines (not appropriate or relevant at all to my mother!)
What was I to do? I really thought about this for a while. And, I saw an opportunity to do something special for my mother. And, this thought started going around my brain - - "I can't slow down this disease which has already taken the mother I grew up with away from.....BUT, I can write that uplifting and loving and delightful material for Mom and I to read together" I asked my artist friend and subsequent illustrator, Jane Freeman, to draw some sketches that matched the sentences I wrote.
And, to my delight, when I sat down next to Mom and asked her to read my sentences and look at Jane's pictures with me, we had the experience of connection and warmth that I had been seeking.
My mother, who hadn't spoken other than "yes" or "no" - read my full sentences out loud to me. She answered the questions I asked her about the meaning of the words, and what was in the pictures.
And, she smiled.
I have a few tears in my eyes as I write these words.
She hadn't been smiling much in the last years of her life, and the two of us reading my words and looking at Jane's pictures, turned out to be the activity which I loved the most, as we both smiled a lot when reading together.
Mom is gone for a few years now. And her inspiration has resulted in my writing the three sweet and loving and happy books in the Two-Lap Book Series: The Sunshine on My Face, Happy New Year to You!, and Wishing on a Star.
I have been so gratified to hear from so many family and professional caregivers about the joy they have when using my books with their loved ones and patients. I say the word "using" deliberately.
Because it may be that your loved one with AD isn't able to read. That's ok, you can read to them.
They may enjoy simply looking at Jane's charming illustrations. You both may enjoy singing songs which are suggested to go with each sentence in "Happy New Year to You" and "Wishing on a Star." Please "use" the books in ways that work for you.
Young children enjoy reading these books with grandparents.
You may enjoy reading the whole book, you may simply open to a favorite page.
You may enjoy answering questions posed by the "Conversation Prompts" at the back of each book.
My wish for you is that my books enrich your visits with your loved one.