I Can’t Recall


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175 in stock


By Way of Dementia – A Loved One, A Family, And A Zigzag Journey
By Suzi O’Connor

ISBN: 978-1-84991-252-5
Published: 2010
Pages: 152
Key Themes: dementia, memory loss, family, relationships



I Can’t Recall is a sister’s narrative of her brother’s struggle with vascular dementia, diagnosed at age fifty-four. The book delves into family relationships, especially between a brother and sister. Younger individuals akin to Thom, those needing twenty-four hour nursing care, have few options. For Thom, a nursing home was chosen, and the hardships in making that type of decision are illustrated. In Part Two of the book, you will encounter Thom’s journal, which was written during the first two years of his life at the nursing home. These journal entries are an amazing representation of dementia from the actual viewpoint of a person suffering from this incurable disease. The book illustrates the many twists and turns of managing a situation such as Thom’s; reveals hope and fear; tells of sadness and happiness; imparts a bit of humor; and paints a picture of unconditional love.

About the Author

Suzi O’Connor worked twenty-five years in the legal field, the last seventeen years of which she worked as a Case Analyst for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Staff Counsel’s office. She has been married to her high school sweetheart Ed, for thirty-seven years, and has a daughter Kimm and a son Michael. She received her bachelor’s degree from Regis University in 2005, at the “young” age of 52, and, at 57, is happily retired.

Book Extract

It started with a phone call. Bad news always seemed to start with a phone call. The last time I had talked with my brother Thom was in April; it was now the end of August. At that time, he sounded as he always did during our phone conversations, upbeat but guarded. We did small talk; teasing back and forth, and then we ended with the inevitable, “Let’s meet for lunch.” Now, he seemed different. He sounded tired, anxious, worried, and panicky.

“Did I tell you I was in the hospital for three days last month?”
“Damn it Thom, why didn’t you call and tell me what was up with you. What happened?”
“I think I had heat stroke.”
I thought, you think you had heat stroke! “You don’t sound so good, what’s the matter, Bro?”

“They’re coming to get me. I paid the hospital bill with my Visa but some jerk just called and said they would come get me if I didn’t pay the bill.”
“Thom, that’s crazy. If you paid, they can’t do anything, and besides silly, they don’t come and get anyone.”

“Can you come over and see me tomorrow and look at all this stuff?”
“No problem, kiddo, I’ll be there at nine.”
I hung up and sat there. He sounded pretty bad. Thom had always been anxious and suffered with severe panic attacks, but he never sounded so frightened. I asked myself, jeez Thom what’s wrong?

Thom was a private person, usually enjoying a more loner-type existence. He had one son, Steve, and had been divorced for some twenty-plus years. He never remarried. He retired, at fifty-two, as a mail carrier for The Post Office, and when we spoke, he usually sounded good, enjoying long walks and playing golf with Steve. His life was a simple one. I would soon learn that it probably wasn’t, simple that is, and keeping to himself was not a great idea, either. Thom and I were the closest in age of our siblings–he four years older than me. He was the tallest of the men in our family, around five-ten, and solidly built. I always thought he had a body like a baseball player, thin and slightly muscular. He had never been heavy, actually on the light side weight-wise. He still had a full head of lighter brown hair, even though most never saw him without a baseball, golf, football, or some type of sports hat on. He hadn’t started to “go bald,” as he was always told he would, if he continued to wear hats all the time. His eyes lighter brown than mine. Over the past thirty years, I had never seen Thom without a mustache. Thom had good looks, especially when he flashed that crooked smile of his. He was smart, especially with math’s; worked the same job, for twenty-eight years; and raised a good son. He didn’t show his great sense of humor much, but he loved a good joke. Thom’s favorite sports team, the Yankees. He had always enjoyed fishing, golf, and bowling. I didn’t think he knew it, but there was something special about him.

Our relationship was a good one, although not close in the “I’ll tell you everything” and “you tell me everything” kind of way. Over the years, we would talk on the phone, and saw each other for the holidays. Though, the last few Thanksgivings and Christmases, Thom found excuses not to come to dinner. I so wanted to keep our brother/sister relationship. It hurt to think that had changed somehow. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Thom and have been gentler with him because of it.

All at once, I was worried and scared.

1 review for I Can’t Recall

  1. Anne Reynolds (verified owner)

    This book touches your heart and soul, written by a loving sister (Suzi) striving to understand her brother Tom’s mental illness and help him however she can. Joining her, is their oldest sister Judy (the Little General). Together the sisters embark on a journey to guarantee that Tom is not abandoned and cared for in the best way possible. What truly makes this book unique is the journal entries from Tom who shares honestly his paranoia, exhilaration, and thoughts, as we are invited into the mind of someone struggling with a mental illness. Courage shines forth in this book on all levels: through all family members, friends, and caregivers; but most importantly through Tom himself.

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