"I just wanted to know your name."
"Thanks. You gave it to me."
"And if I just call, you'll come?"
"It might not be me, but if you call, I promise you, someone nice will come."
"That's good. Thank you. I'll sleep well knowing that."
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?
Dementia. Mental Illness. Loss. Shame. They make us turn away. Yet, when Dana Walrath’s mother, Alice, came down with dementia and moved in with her, little did she know that this would lead her not only to heal her relationship with her mother but also to start making comics. Creative writing, visual art, medical anthropology and comics?—who knew that they were connected? But through watching Alice devour every graphic narrative that came into the house, Dana Walrath discovered the healing power of this visual storytelling form and put it to work in her graphic memoir Aliceheimer’s. With a community of help that included pirates, good neighbors, a cast of characters from space-time travel, and her dead father hovering in the branches of the maple trees that surround her Vermont farmhouse, Aliceheimer’s let Dana Walrath and her mother write their story daily. But even more so, Dana Walrath will show how sharing our stories—especially stories about phenomena surrounded by stigma, shame, and loss—heal both the giver and the receiver of the story so that together we can all rewrite the dominant medical narrative of aging.
“A deeply moving, informative, and funny memoir by a woman watching her mother's descent into Alzheimer's disease." - Roz Chast, author of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
“Sometimes funny, sometimes heart-breaking, each comic weaves in a different facet of [Dana and Alice’s] shared experience: hallucinations, repetition, memory, loss, magic, and sometimes even time travel.” - Meredith Rizzo, NPR Shots
“I am grateful for creators like Walrath . . . who make art from experiences like those my patients face. Their works remind us that, even during the throes of illness or grief, when the air is filled with questions, fear, and sadness, there are slivers of time and space where room can be made for wonder.” - Lynda Montgomery, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Aliceheimer’s is a story about the possibility to find quality of life in dementia caregiving; the possibility to see Alzheimer’s disease as creating a new self, a self that can be lived with and written about up to the moment when we feel threatened in our own self.” - Dr Martina Zimmermann, British Medical Journal