A Long Goodbye and Beyond
Coping with Alzheimer's

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Dr. Linda Morrison Combs, Author

[Photo of Linda and her mother] [Photo of Linda] Pictured on the left are Linda's mother, Vera Bryant Morrison (who died of Alzheimer's Disease on 5/29/99), and Linda when she was a little girl. Linda is now Dr. Linda Morrison Combs, pictured on the right. Dr. Combs is a former Assistant Secretary for Management at the U. S. Department of Treasury. She resigned that position to become a caregiver.


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"I think this book should be very helpful to many people -- especially caregivers." --Nancy Reagan

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"This account of how a mother's struggle with Alzheimer's disease challenged and inspired her daughter should encourage any family coping with this condition."

--Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director, The Memory Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland

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"It is a powerful portrayal of unconditional love flowing in both directions. What Dr. Combs has done here will help many others who are engaged in their own long goodbyes."

--Al Carpenter, D.Min., Minister and Family Counselor, Clemmons, North Carolina

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Background on the Book

Alzheimer's, the frightening disease of aging, is treated heroically in a touching book by a woman who left her important position as Assistant Secretary for Management at the U.S. Department of Treasury to care for her mother.

After her mother's medical verdict of increasing memory loss was pronounced, Linda Combs resigned her executive post in Washington, D.C., and moved home to North Carolina.

Her familiarity with Alzheimer's prompted Linda Combs to write her book, A Long Goodbye and Beyond, as a resource for other parental caregivers, like herself, who must assist a loved one to pass through the stages of unlovely deterioration.

To this book of instruction, courage, kindness, sympathy and loyalty to the idea of a new life beyond, artist Tom Novak lends his marvelous illustrations, which are a tribute to brave souls who have the long loneliness of slow disintegration.

Dr. Linda Combs was nominated by President Reagan to serve as a high-level appointee in the U.S. Department of Education, and later in the Department of Veterans Affairs. President George Bush (41) nominated her as Assistant Secretary for Management at the U.S. Treasury and as Vice-Chair of the President's Council for Management Improvement. President George W. Bush nominated Linda to be the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, later to be CFO of the US Department of Transportation, and in her last position she was confirmed by the US Senate to be the Controller of the Office of Financial Management in the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President. The author lives with her husband, composer David Combs, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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Answers to Important Questions

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A Long Goodbye and Beyond

Coping with Alzheimer's

[Cover of Book] The photograph on the cover is of Linda's mother when she was a vibrant, beautiful young woman. The jigsaw puzzle created by cover designer Richard Ferguson provides a poignant visual metaphor. Alzheimer's is indeed a disease that causes a loved one to fall apart one piece at a time. On one day you see your loved one and some of the pieces seem to be back in place. But, the next day they have disappeared again, along with perhaps a new missing piece. Sometimes there are barely enough pieces left to recognize the person that they used to be. Sadly, eventually all the pieces are lost, at least in this world. It is the hope of millions that Alzheimer's will turn out to be a puzzle that can be solved.

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Book Contents

The book is a paperback book (5.75"x7.25"), 160 pages long, divided into ten chapters, each dealing with a different aspect or phase of the disease. The contents are:

Acknowledgments

Introduction

  1. A Disease with a Past
  2. My Personal Odyssey
  3. Creating Advocates--NotAdversaries
  4. About the Nursing Home We Chose
  5. Now, Dad's a Lonely Heart
  6. A House of Dreams
  7. Ongoing Care
  8. The Final Goodbye
  9. Me Dealing with Me
  10. Helping Myself by Helping Others
Author's Note

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Acknowledgments

Thanks to my publisher, BookPartners, for their faith in this project.

Thanks to my editors, Thorn and Ursula Bacon, for helping to bring order, clarity, and focus to my manuscript.

Thanks to Sheryl Mehary for organizing and designing the text.

Thanks to Tom Navak for the illustrations.

Thanks to Jini Guti for marketing the book.

Thanks to Van Speros for administration.

Thanks to Betsy DeGraff for her administrative assistance.

Thanks to Jeanette McHone for originally suggesting that I put these experiences and frustrations on paper -- and assuring me that my experiences would help others.

Thanks to Garlene Grogan for her special assistance.

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Introduction

As I Look out the window each morning and see the sun glittering on the window pane or rain pattering on the glass, I realize once again how fortunate I am to be able to enjoy the moment -- appreciate a sunrise, go for a walk, or enjoy a tasty breakfast. Every moment is precious, and I trust that the moments we spend together here in this book will be positive ones for you as well.

From time to time we all find ourselves trying to work through difficult and complex challenges in our lives. That's what this book is all about. I hope you will learn from and benefit by the experiences I reveal here, for you probably wouldn't be reading my words unless you or someone you know is affected by Alzheimer's disease. Thousands of families are involved with the "Curse of Forgetfulness" ...the designation I have given to the malady that has struck the women and men in my family. And I...inheritor of the ancestral genes for intelligence, straight limbs and proud mind from my grandmother and mother...What of me? Will I, too, become a victim? There lies the question that haunts me, as I lie in my early morning bed, my husband gently asleep beside me. With my eyes closed, I listen to the morning sounds, identifying the birds by their cheerful wake-up calls, and hear the drowsy voice of the neighborhood traffic...and I wonder.

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Author's Note

When my friend Jeanette suggested that I put on paper some of my thoughts that I had found useful, she had no idea how this suggestion would grow and be used by others. After reformatting several pages of handwritten notes I had kept over the years, which reflected discussions I had on Alzheimer's with friends, physicians, and relatives, I added some classical quotations that I found instructive, humerous, or consoling. For this edition, I continued by adding biographical information and some more detailed information that I felt captured watershed moments during this journey of our long goodbye.

One of the struggles I dealt with when I first realized that I needed information about Alzheimer's. since my mother was affected by the disease, was that I was too much involved in dealing with my own day-to-day emotions to find time to read the many wonderful, full-length books available on the subject of Alzheimer's. How does one just stop and say, "Hold it! I need more information. I'll continue dealing with Mama later after I've gotten more information."

Obviously that's impossible. Therefore, the format I selected for presentation is designed as brief thoughts, some of which can be read in one sitting, or that can be read as a thought or two each day. There are hundreds of other comments and quotations that could be added by those who have also dealt with this disease. The ones included here are those that have personally helped me the most. My hope and prayer is that they will help you too, as you and your loved ones go through and beyond your own long goodbye.

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Price of the Book

Book Price In US Dollars Is:

Shipping & handling charge: $3.95 per order

Shipments to North Carolina will have 7% sales tax added to the order.

Your order will be shipped no later than the next business day. Shipment will be via First Class mail or UPS for USA orders and Airmail for all other orders.

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How to Order the Book

You may order the book from Combs Music. Just go to the Combs Music How To Order page and follow the intructions found there.

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Dr. Combs -- Author

If you would like to contact Dr. Combs, please send her an email.

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Publisher

A Long Goodbye and Beyond is Published By:

Combs Music
421 Cedar Trails
Winston-Salem, NC 27104

Phone: 336-748-9052
Toll-free (USA & Canada): 800-932-6627
Fax: 336-723-1611
E-mail:

For quantity purchases or if your local bookstore needs to know how to purchase copies of this book, please call Combs Music at 800-522-6627.

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[Alzheimer's Association Logo]

Alzheimer's Association

For additional information on Alzheimer's disease and caregiving, or to find out about a local Alzheimer's support group, contact:

Alzheimer's Association
919 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60611

1-800-272-3900

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