Anne: You see that sweet face in the photo? That's Joy Ross Davis, and she's every bit as sweet as the picture, but with way more energy than the law allows. She is the author of Mother, Can You Hear Me?, a collection of articles written with humor and pathos about the time Joy spent taking care of her mother after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. It's my privilege to interview her today, and I hope you enjoy getting to know her.
So, Joy, what inspired you to write about your mother?
Joy: My mother and I had a turbulent relationship, even though I lived with her for many years and nursed her through several major surgeries and illnesses. But when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's (dementia), I realized (through God's grace) that the turbulence had to end. One night as I sat with my mom, she looked at me and said, "Sister, you handle it all with such dignity. I'm proud of you." I will never forget that moment, that one shining moment. Because she had such a profound effect on my life, she became my inspiration.
Anne: Why did you decide to compile the articles into a book?
Joy: Actually, it was the readers of those monthly articles who suggested that I compile them. This was before I was associated with Helping Hands Press, so when I signed with them, I happened to mention the articles to get their opinion. It was a resounding "Yes!"......so, Mother, Can You Hear Me became a book!
Anne: I imagine other people told you their stories when they read yours. Can you tell us the most memorable of those tales?
Joy: I can tell you one that was the most memorable. I was standing in the post office one morning. There was a man standing beside me. He stared at me for a minute, and then said, "Aren't you the lady that writes about her mom in the newspaper?" I said I was. He smiled and said, "I love to read them. They remind me of my own experiences with my mother. She had dementia just like your mom, but it affected her badly. Still, I miss those times of caring for her. She died just over two years ago, and I miss her so much. I miss the daily struggles and the daily bits of humor. So, you cherish these times, even though they seem so hard. They're temporary, and you'll miss them when they're over."
Oh, was he right!
4. Do you ever find yourself wishing you could go back and so something differently?
Every day. Yes, every day I think of something I could have done, something I should have done, words I should have said, hugs I should have given. I should have told my mother how much I loved her. Every day, I should have told her how much she meant to me. I should have made her feel that it was an honor to care for her. I think that, at times, she knew I was frustrated and even angry, overworked, and overwhelmed at the responsibility. But if I could go back and change that,I would. I'd give her the peace of mind that she wanted so much, the surety that no matter what, I loved her with all my heart. It gives me great sorrow to think that I could have done so much more for her. A simple kiss and a smile would have brought her such happiness.
Anne: I relate to that. Although I wasn't her caregiving, I wish I had spent more time with my mom too, among so much more. Now, going back in time, what's your most precious memory of your mom, other than in these stories?
Joy: My mom and I took frequent trips to Tennessee to a small town near where she was born and where her favorite cousin lived. It was called Monteagle, very close to Sewanee University. We went so often that it became our "thing," our mother-daughter bonding experience. One evening, years ago, after I'd had a very bad time at work and was physically attacked by a student, I was sitting on the sofa in the den lamenting the day's events. My mom came in, sat beside me, and handed me a $100 bill. "Let's blow this joint," she said with a smile. "Let's go to Monteagle and leave these jerks behind."
It was a precious thing for her to do.
Anne: Do you ever foresee a time when you might compile a second grouping of these stories?
Joy: I've thought about it, yes. I have only a couple of other articles written, but there is much more to tell. So, who knows? There might be a second book.
Anne: Tell us a little about your next book.
Joy: The book I'm working on now is a novel set in the 1880s in Tennessee. It's called The Devereaux Jewel and is the story of a young woman who is rescued from life in an orphanage by a kind man who marries her and wants to provide a wonderful life for her. He gives her a beautiful emerald necklace--a family heirloom from the 1600s--not knowing that the necklace holds many secrets and hidden powers.
Thank you, Anne, for the gift of being on your blog.
Anne: It was a gift for me too, Joy. I loved having you here!
Other ways to connect with Joy:
Pinterest: Joy Ross Davis