Michael James' 2023 memoir, DEAR JUDY – A LOVE STORY REWRITTEN BY ALZHEIMER'S, published by Pine Eden Press, tells the story of the journey he and his late first wife and textile artist Judith James faced when she was diagnosed with younger onset Alzheimer's disease in her sixty-first year.
James reconstructs, honestly and with great sensitivity, Judith’s and his shared experience through the multiple advancing stages of her disease, their accommodation of the successive and accelerating losses and the accompanying grief, and the eventual acceptance that allowed light to dissolve the darkness into which their relationship had been unexpectedly cast. We are privy to some of the most intimate moments in a marriage transformed by this disease and by the curve balls it would throw. In this unflinching meditation and reflection, we learn that life can indeed be enriched by adversity, and that love and creativity can, against strong odds, expand, deepen, and ultimately reach their respective fulfillment.
“Even though Michael James is writing about the world of Alzheimer’s, where words themselves are erased,” writes poet and former Haystack Mountain School of Crafts Director Stuart Kestenbaum, “he finds the language to tell a remarkable story of love and devotion. We see him navigate this heartbreaking place, at first with Judith and then for Judith. He tells their story with honesty and clarity, educating himself and us along the way. He learns to focus on the moment at hand. Where we might expect to find despair, we find instead a place where empathy and compassion are alive.”