18 January 2016

Guest Post: What We Remember by Australian author Sally Hepworth

Australian author
Sally Hepworth
Very pleased to have Melbourne author Sally Hepworth on the blog today, as part of her blog tour for the release of The Things We Keep. She's here today to talk about memories.

What We Remember
What if everything that had happened in your life was suddenly wiped out? Literally, through a case of amnesia, or figuratively, if you found out something you valued was a lie?

I’ve thought about this a lot. While watching the news, I’ll see the wife of a politician who couldn’t keep it in his pants, or an ex-cult member escaping a life she was born into and think … how do you go on now? 

Who are we without our fundamental beliefs, beliefs created over a lifetime? 

A few years ago, my friend’s father had what their family now calls an ‘episode.’ His assistant found him wandering around the office, disoriented and agitated. When his family arrived and tried speaking to him, he asked them: “What day is it?”
“Tuesday, dad,” they told him.
“Tuesday,” he repeated, frowning deeply. “Did I play golf this morning?”
A coy smile. “How’d I play?”

It was funny, the first time. But over the next twelve hours they had the same conversation a hundred times. Verbatim. Same deep frown, same coy smile. 

My friend’s father’s ‘episode’ was Global Transient Amnesia. Thankfully, the transient part meant that by the next day, he was back to normal.

The interesting part for me was that for twenty-four hours, his short-term memory was less than a minute long. Yet, every time he asked the same series of questions. The exact same series. It spoke to me about memory and its role in who we are. It led me to wonder if maybe, memory isn’t as important as we think.

The Things We Keep
by Sally Hepworth
published January 2016
In my novel, The Things We Keep, three women find they can’t trust their memories. For Anna, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease at age 38, it is learning that all of her memories are being sucked out faster than she can create them. For Eve, once happily married, it’s coming to terms with the fact that her husband wasn’t the person she thought he was. For Clementine, Eve’s daughter, it is trying to grieve for her ‘hero’ father while dealing with the realization that he wasn’t a hero at all. 

Each woman is faced with a reality she didn’t expect. And with nothing but unreliable memories to lean on, Anna, Eve and Clementine are going to find out who they are and what they stand for.

What about you? If you lost your memory, do you think you would you be the same? And what conversation would you be having over and over?

Sally Hepworth

Would you like to comment?

  1. I haven't read this and not sure I will as my father suffered from dementia. His was vascular dementia and it was his short-medium term memories that were affected. Mostly his long term memories were okay. So he remembered people but had no idea what he'd done just minutes before. He never knew what day it was / if he'd had lunch / where he was etc...

    He has a few exacerbating factors but whenever I struggle to think of a word I worry I'm heading in the same direction. (He was lucky it didn't happen to him until he was in his 60s).

  2. Thanks for your personal story Deb, dementia impacts more lives than we realise.


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