Review Circle of Solace: Poetry helps Alzheimer's caregivers transcend the daily burden of care.A retired Department of Education resource teacher, Kakugawa is the published author of four volumes of poetry. For five years, she served as the primary caregiver for her elderly mother, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Having found writing a 'saving grace' that helped her manage the tremendous burden of care, she founded the poetry and journaling support group for the Alzheimer's Association-Aloha Chapter [in 2000]. Mosaic Moon portrays the group's collective spiritual journey born in the depths of despair. The poems attest to the durability of the human heart, and to the power of creativity to heal and transform. When she retired in 1996, Kakugawa had looked forward to traveling. Instead, she began an endless drill of bone-gnawing exhaustion. The eldest of five siblings and the only one unmarried and without children, Kakugawa found herself 'squeezing out urine from carpets and bedding, scrubbing bathroom tiles at 3 a.m., staying up nights, answering constant calls.' She couldn't sit down to a crossword puzzle or finish a meal without interruption. Nearing her wit's end, Kakugawa finally linked with local support groups, and found catharsis and renewal by venting her frustrations in her journal. Without such help, caregivers are at increased risk of developing depression and health problems, or of even abusing their loved ones. 'So the golden rule of caregiving is to take care of yourself first,' says Kakugawa. When 91-year-old Matsue died peacefully in her sleep, Kakugawa felt her mother was finally set free, leaving her with a precious legacy of lessons. Mosaic Moon contains many of those lessons. Like those paradoxical Island moments when the sunshine perseveres through heavy rains, humor mixes seamlessly with loss in the poems. They encompass a symphonic gamut of emotions: wrenching sorrow, guilt, anger, resentment, hope, tenderness, even joy. They powerfully testify that memories may wax and wane, but love endures. --Naomi Sodetani, Island Scene Magazine Read more About the Author Kakugawa is a retired Hawaii public school teacher, who also taught in Michigan and Micronesia and served as a teacher trainer at the University of Hawaii. Kakugawa was her Alzheimer's-afflicted mother's primary caregiver for five years; during that time she found that poetry and journaling helped to ease the rigorous burden of caregiving. Read more
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