The challenges of Alzheimer's disease, the physical burdens, financial costs, emotional turmoil and family strife can reduce our loved one to a 'he' or a 'she,' a person almost devoid of humanity. As caregivers, our lives revolve around the basics, like doctor's appointments and dressing, feeding and cleaning up after our loved ones. Their life becomes our life; our life becomes theirs. But who are they now that this disease has taken over? And just as important, who are we? In I Am Somebody: Bringing Dignity and Compassion to Alzheimer's Caregiving, dignity-in-caregiving advocate Frances H. Kakugawa presents a new vision of caregiving.
I Am Somebody is a reminder that both loved one and caregiver deserve compassion, respect and a life with dignity. As a caregiver for her Alzheimer's-afflicted mother for many years, Kakugawa often felt embattled and at odds with her mother. Through writing, she had a revelation. "I wrote a poem, from my mother's point of view, imagining what she would say: 'When I soil my clothing, or do something absurd, / Do not tell me, "Why didn't you?" / If I could, I would.' This idea came to haunt me and became my mantra whenever I wanted to shout in exasperation, 'Why did you?' or 'Why didn't you?'"
In poetic voice, Kakugawa explored further what her mother might have wanted to say: "Speak to me, for I am still here. I understand hugs and smiles and loving kindness. Speak to me and not around me. I am not a she or her or even a room number." Having put herself into the position of patient—a label she eschews for the negative attitudes it engenders—Kakugawa discovered her attitude toward caregiving had shifted. "Once I embraced this new person who was evolving before me, once I let go of the person I wanted my mother to be and instead let her be herself, caregiving turned into a freer flowing river."
I Am Somebody offers guidance in using poetry and journaling to become a more compassionate caregiver. It is a therapeutic tool providing advice and insights in the form of poems and journal entries from twelve individuals—men and women with a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, ages, faiths and education who have cared for mothers, fathers, wives and husbands—who have made this difficult journey. Kakugawa and her fellow caregivers paint a vivid picture of the caregiving journey and all of the attending struggles, triumphs and deepest fears. I Am Somebody gives voice to the caregiver experience, allowing unspoken feelings to be expressed and caregivers the space to explore what their loved ones might say, if they could. Caregivers will find this assemblage of experiences resonant, while those who are more peripherally involved, such as non-caregiving family members and medical professionals, will gain new insight into the daily caregiving experience. Kakugawa opens each chapter with advice directed toward both caregivers and those in their support circle.
"Frances' work inspires our capacity for generosity and compassion and motivates us to action. Read, savor and share."
~Mike Splaine, Policy Adviser, Alzheimer's Disease International
"A beautiful and thoughtful exploration of the many emotions and experiences of caregiving for a loved one with dementia. Caregivers reading this book will learn that they are not alone and may also find a way to reframe their caregiving journey."
~Michelle Johnston, Regional Director, Alzheimer's Association Northern California & Northern Nevada Chapter
Breaking The Silence
Breaking the Silence is an essential book for Alzheimer's caregivers. It's a thoughtful and honest look into what caregivers face each day, coping with incredible pressure, anxiety, and difficult decisions. Frances weaves her poetry and that of six other caregivers together, along with journal entries and advice for the novice poet.
"...a book of enormous hope and transformation."
~Bruce Jennings, Director of Bioethics Center for Humans and Nature New York, NY
Mosaic Moon is much more than an extraordinary collection of inspirational poetry. Here is a unique resource for anyone with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other long-term illness. Created from poetry workshops conducted by the Alzheimer's Association Aloha Chapter, this writing tool for non-writers is brimming with ideas and techniques for finding solace in journaling and poetry. Designed for both individual caregivers and for support groups organizing workshops, Mosaic Moon offers hope, humor and a powerful antidote to the heavy burden of caregiving.
Wordsworth The Poet
Wordsworth writes poetryabout rainbows made of butterflies and castles in the clouds. But all the other mice in the Hawaiian rain forest make fun of Wordsworth and his "silly" poems, until the day the sun disappears, and the sky rumbles, and the rain begins to fall and fall. That's when Wordsworth takes pen in hand and shows the others how poetry can save the day. In this heartwarming children's story by poet and educator Frances H. Kakugawa, young readers can learn the value of self-expression, then try writing their own poems about the world around them.
Wordsworth the Poet was the recipient of the 2004 Ka Palapala Book Award for Excellence in Children's Books from the Hawaii Book Publishers' Association.
Age level: 4 and up
Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer!
There are so many changes happening in Wordsworth's lifeóhis best friend Emily has moved away, a new girl from Japan named Akiko is sitting in Emily's chair at school and, worst of all, a bulldozer has invaded Wordsworth's special koa grove where he thinks up new poems. What should Wordsworth do?
"I would want someone to be nice to Emily," thinks Wordsworth. So he and his friends, Eliot and Dylan, invite Akiko to teach them about Japanese poetry. And what a good thing, too, because it is Akiko who has a clever idea to save the neighborhood trees from being knocked down.
Wordsworth Dances The Waltz
Wordsworth, the little Hawaiian mouse who loves poetry, doesn't understand why there is so much whispering around the house since Grandma came to live with his family. He remembers her last visit, when the house was filled with laughter, and he and Grandma danced around the room together. But now, Wordsworth and his siblings have to walk softly and be quiet so they don't disturb Grandma. In Wordsworth Dances the Waltz, children are introduced to the concept that as grandparents age, they may become different, and even forget important things. Wordsworth finds comfort in writing poems that express his confusion over the changes in his beloved grandparent and the fond memories he has of her more vibrant days. He wonders, "Now that shes losing her memory/She's still my Grandma, isnt she?" The answer, of course, is yesnothing could ever change that. Wordsworth's poems help his family understand that Grandma would still like to do things she always lovedspending time with the family, laughing and dancing.
Wordsworth Dances the Waltz is dedicated to author Frances Kakugawa's late mother, Matsue, who was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. Frances was her primary caregiver for five years; during that time she found that poetry and journaling helped to ease the rigorous burden of caregiving.
Wordsworth Dances the Waltz received the Bronze Award in the Best Book Overall category, as well as the award for Best Illustrated Children's Book from the Northern California Publishers & Authors (NCPA) group for books published in 2007.
Praise for Wordsworth Does The Waltz:"As with all of Kakugawa's other works, this one provides powerful insights to young and old alike . . . The book makes it clear that she's no arm-chair story-teller when it comes to caring for and about people."
Teacher, You Look Like A Horse
Veteran educator Frances H. Kakugawa presents an inside look at learning in Teacher, You Look Like A Horse! from Watermark Publishing. The author taught for many years in the Hawaii and Michigan public school systems and also worked as a teacher trainer and curriculum writer in Micronesia and Hawaii.
At once poignant and hilarious, Teacher, You Look Like A Horse offers a wealth of personal insights into the educational process. Among them: the magic of discovery, the lifelong bond between student and teacher, the growing pains of childhood, and the serendipitous moments when student becomes teacher. An entertaining memoir with a powerful message, the book also includes case studies and creative solutions to student-teacher issues. With lively anecdotes and revealing student commentary, this easy-reading resource was written for teachers, parents and anyone else involved in the care and education of children.
In Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii, Frances H. Kakugawa shares the stories of her life in the town of Kapoho on the Island of Hawaii, a town that no longer exists. From the wartime drama of "The Enemy Wore My Face"recalling her instant transformation to distrusted "Jap" after the bombing of Pearl Harborto the sweet poignancy of "A One-Chopstick Marriage"the story of her parents' relationship Kakugawa weaves a tapestry of memories drawn from life in a Hawaiian plantation village now buried beneath a blanket of lava.
"Kakugawa's amazing recall of details helps remind us of the beautiful innocence and naivete of youth and the realities of growing up poor in Hawaii, all too cognizant of the ethnic, linguistic and cultural barriers she would have to overcome to realize her literary dreams," says Guy Aoki, Founding President, Media Action Network for Asian Americans. Author Charles Pellegrino calls it "a rare poetic history that will make you think, laugh and cry."
"Being a poet, Kakugawa understands how to use the senses and evoke emotion in her writing, and she does so here, working meticulous details into the stories of her book."
~Hawaii Book Blog
"Kakugawa does not simply recount an event, she gently threads her words through the fabric of those lives directly affected by it. Read closely and you will bear witness to the elegant acquisition of an almost completely ignored culture."