About The Book
Author: Allan Ament
Allan and Deloris Ament’s lives take a dramatic turn when Deloris suffers a debilitating stroke. No longer an equal partner in marriage, Allan becomes Deloris’s primary caregiver, responsible for maintaining their household and her well-being. Learning to Float describes Allan’s transformation from a criminal defense attorney to a compassionate, emotionally vulnerable caregiver. Drawing on contemporaneously written emails and private journal entries, Ament unflinchingly exposes his emotional, mental, and physical ups and downs, consistently focusing on the love, humor, and opportunities for personal and spiritual growth he experiences on this journey. Anyone with the possibility of becoming a caregiver for a loved one, now or in the future, will benefit from the insights Ament shares. Everyone will be buoyed by the love Allan and Deloris experience as they face their new normal.
After successful careers as a criminal defense attorney, higher education administrator and instructor, and day spa manager, Allan Ament now enjoys retirement with his wife, an award-winning journalist and author, and their semi-neurotic cat (are there other kinds?) They live on an island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle, where, in addition to writing and being his wife’s primary caregiver, Ament serves as board chair for the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (nila.edu). His work has previously appeared in academic, professional, and literary journals, and is included in an upcoming anthology, Being: What Makes a Man. Learning to Float is his first book-length work.
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Excerpted from “It’s Actually a Loft”
My body and mind were attuned to Deloris’s smallest movements; I would be wide-awake within seconds whenever I sensed Deloris needed help. If Deloris slept on the first floor, there was no place for me to sleep next to her. Nor did I want to pay a caregiver to sit in a chair beside my wife in order to help her to and from the bathroom a couple of times a night. The stairs were not wide enough for a standard chair lift; a customized chair lift was too expensive. Major house renovations would take time, even if they were possible, practical, and affordable.
No option that involved staying in our present house seemed feasible. The clock was ticking, and it scared the hell out of me. I needed to fix the problem and had no idea how.
One evening Ben and Fredericka, who were back from New York, came over for dinner. As we were eating, I described my frustration and stress at being unable to come up with a workable living solution. Ben looked around the room. “Think of the downstairs as one big open space. You’ve been in our loft in New York. This has the same sort of possibilities. Move your bed downstairs, set up some screens, and live on one floor. It’s what we do in New York.”
I looked around and was surprised by what I saw. “That could work,” I said.
While not ideal from a decorator’s standpoint, the solution entailed minimal inconvenience. We would no longer have a functional living room, but it was a lot easier, and less expensive, than moving. And if we bought a new bed, we could move our present one into the empty room upstairs and have a real guest room.
As a teacher of critical thinking, I was familiar with how our strong feelings can cloud our thought processes. I had been caught up in my own emotional maelstrom and could neither recognize it for what it was nor find a means to escape it. I had needed another pair of eyes, someone uninvolved who could look at things dispassionately and come up with a rational, workable solution. Ben’s suggestion excited me on several levels. We could remain in our home, and I would now have new material for my classes: a personal example of how a dispassionate party can help in problem solving.