Union prof's essays examine illness

About 10 years ago, Marten's mother got into a car crash outside her home in Southern California and began to get confused by insurance paperwork that normally wouldn't have been a problem for her at all.

When the other party in the accident filed a lawsuit, Marten's mother became more confused and paranoid. Shortly thereafter, her son and daughter recognized her illness and realized she needed professional help.

As her condition worsened, Marten wrote of his mother's journey from an independent living facility to an assisted living facility to the nursing home she lives in today in Sterling, Va., near her daughter, Beth Ticknor.

Marten said he's realized that his struggles are the same struggles others in his generation face as their parents grow older. His wife, Ginit, also has a mother suffering from dementia. Virginia Palmatier, lives in the Kingsway Nursing Home in Schenectady.

He remembers the first time he read the haunting motto of his mother's nursing home, Eagle's Roost: "Be kind to your children," it read, "they will pick your nursing home."

While Marten acknowledges the difficulty of his subject, he also acknowledges the rewards of writing about a disease that is perplexing and frustrating not only to its victims, but also to caregivers and family members.

"I tend to understand things as I write them," he said of writing so personally about family and illness. "I came to an understanding of my own confusion through the process."

A selection from "Shadowlands" is available online in the August 2006 issue of Inertia magazine at www.inertiamagazine.com/i3/marten.html.""

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