Connie Kish won’t be written off as just another sad casualty of Alzheimer’s. Oddly at first, she’s the caregiver, finding ways to help her husband, Max, cope with what’s happening to her. When she sees that he’s utterly devastated and crying in secret, she decides to let him off the hook by divorcing him. She pushes him away with all her might while he hangs onto to her for dear life. There comes a new man into her life and another woman in his. In a comedy of errors, Connie and Max come out on the other side, together again. He has matured and stepped up as the caregiver. They’re awash in Alzheimer’s, trying to stay afloat and looking after each other in a mirroring of love back and forth between them.
“Don’t write me off,” she says. “Don’t let me become a forgetful old biddy saying the same thing over and over again.”
“Connie Kish an old biddy? Ain’t gonna happen. No way. No how.”
“I like the sound of it. ‘Old biddy.’”
“It’s too soon for you to become an old biddy,” Max says. “You’re going to have to wait until I become an old galoot.”
“That’s us. The old biddy and the old galoot. When I forget your name, I’ll call you Old Galoot. And when you forget my name, you can call me Old Biddy.
Though this is Bruce McLean’s first novel, he has spent his lifetime writing. He claims that his early experiences include the toughening experience of working as a rivet passer in a shipyard, deckhand on a coastal freighter, logging camp chockerman, and labourer at an oil refinery. But it was what followed that gave him his language chops. He spent thirty-five years as a newspaper reporter and in various editing jobs starting with the Nelson Daily News, Trail Daily Times, the Columbian (New Westminster, BC,) Vancouver Sun, The Province, Globe and Mail, Toronto Telegram, and in London, England at the Croydon Times and Sunday Express. His storytelling in The Mañana Treehouse was inspired by the memory of his wife, Pauline St-Pierre Dion who spent the last seven years of her life with Alzheimer’s. He became what’s known as a ‘bitter ender’, with her all the way.