Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Open Mic Wednesday - guest post from Kathryn Harrison

Our guest post today is from the author/illustrator of yesterday's
fabulous featured book, "Weeds In Nana's Garden",  Kathryn Harrison.  I warmly welcome her to Storywraps... 

Here is Kathryn with her lovely family and a short bio about her ...

"Canadian Author / Illustrator Kathryn Harrison holds a compelling blend of science, marketing and art skills. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, an MBA and worked for over a decade as a Communications professional before earning a Fine Art Diploma from the Toronto School of Art. Although she has done much creating during her life, stirred by her personal experience with her mother’s dementia, Kathryn was able to layer all her different abilities together in this book."

Ladies and gentlemen I give the mic over to Kathryn...

Gifts from the Garden by Kathryn Harrison – Guest Post for Marilyn Panton

“To plant a garden is to believe in the future.” Anonymous

My mother’s garden has always been magical. She cultivated its beauty over several years, not only by lovingly planning and caring for it, but also by transplanting exquisite flowers passed down to her from her father’s garden. She treasured these special gifts of peonies, tulip bulbs and rose bushes. Loved by her father, these blooms carried a piece of his heart to her backyard.
And so it was, for many years, that a walk though my mother’s gorgeous garden was like a magical journey through my family’s heart. It carried an air of strength and love from both my grandfather and mother. But when my mother became afflicted with dementia, it didn’t take long for the garden to reflect her changed state. Neglect and overgrowth quickly covered the beautiful legacy.
Still, the garden offered great gifts; a relaxing place for my father, an adventuresome place for my kids, and a quiet, safe place for my mom. Bouquets could still be coaxed from under the weeds to adorn vases in my mom’s home and eventually, in my mom’s nursing home.
One day, my young daughter made the connection between the weeds in the garden and my mother’s dementia. Remarking that like the weeds taking over the flowers, the disease was taking over Nana’s brain.  This clever observation was the inspiration behind my just published children’s book about Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, Weeds in Nana’s Garden.
Looking back, I realized that day that I could draw on my skills as an artist and marketer to create a children’s book using this concept to help families with dementia. And in so doing, I’d be able to illustrate from my mom’s magical garden and continue to share its gifts.
I started writing and drawing sketches for the book shortly before my mom’s passing in 2010. In the years following, I spent much time in her garden, studying old photographs and examining landscape plans to paint large scale illustrations for the story.  I took paintings and layered paper, conté, pencil drawings and digital textures together until I was able to capture some of the magic. 
But this book was meant to explain dementia within the garden, so I also needed to visually find a way to portray the disease.  My solution?  As you turn each page, you see less colour and less light, more darkness and more tangled lines. Then, unlike unstoppable dementia, this garden gets a second life.  The grand-daughter in the story learns to take over as the magical garden’s caregiver and brightness starts to return to the pages. We’re left with a final gift from the garden - hope for the future.
Today, this hope stems from the many efforts currently underway to support and find a cure for dementia diseases.  And to join this movement, each book sold will contribute $1 towards the Alzheimer Society of Canada – Canada’s leading health charity for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
My mother’s garden enriched my world. It is my wish that through this book, it will also be able to reach beyond my backyard to give understanding, comfort and support to many touched by dementia.

I want to thank Kathryn so much for contributing to Storywraps today.  I whole-heartedly support her cause and was thrilled that a portion of the book's earnings was going to such a worthy charity.  I hope her story will help you understand Alzheimer's much better and inspire you to give.   Hopefully we can make a difference in someone's life suffering from this dreaded disease by doing so. 

Have a magical day everyone!  Happy Wednesday to you from beginning to end... and every minute in between!  

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