The Last of His Mind (Paperback)

A Year in the Shadow of Alzheimer's

By John Thorndike

Swallow Press, 9780804011365, 256pp.

Publication Date: April 12, 2011

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (10/23/2009)

List Price: 16.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

ForeWord Book of the Year Award winner
A Publishers Weekly “Indie Top 20”
The Washington Post: A Best Book of 2009
2010 Ohioana Book Award Finalist


Joe Thorndike was managing editor of Life at the height of its popularity immediately following World War II. He was the founder of American Heritage and Horizon magazines, the author of three books, and the editor of a dozen more. But at age 92, in the space of six months he stopped reading or writing or carrying on detailed conversations. could no longer tell time or make a phone call. was convinced that the governor of Massachusetts had come to visit and was in the refrigerator.

Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and like many of them, Joe Thorndike’s one great desire was to remain in his own house. To honor this wish, his son John left his own home and moved into his father’s upstairs bedroom on Cape Cod. For a year, in a house filled with file cabinets, photos, and letters, John explored his father’s mind, his parents’ divorce, and his mother’s secrets. The Last of His Mind is the bittersweet account of a son’s final year with his father, and a candid portrait of an implacable disease.

It is the ordeal of Alzheimer’s that draws father and son close, closer than they have been since John was a boy. At the end, when Joe’s heart stops beating, John’s hand is on his chest, and a story of painful decline has become a portrait of deep family ties, caregiving, and love.


About the Author

John Thorndike is the author of two novels, Anna Delaney's Child and The Potato Baron, and a previous memoir, Another Way Home. He lives in Athens, Ohio.


Praise For The Last of His Mind: A Year in the Shadow of Alzheimer's

“This book tells a hard story, the relentless decline of a father’s memory and self-awareness. John Thorndike writes a beautiful sentence, a beautiful page, and describes his father’s last year with piercing clarity, but also great warmth. He opens a world we will all have to face.”
— Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones


"In The Last of his Mind, John Thorndike has given us far more than a book on dealing with Alzheimer’s. This taut, clear-eyed memoir of a son caring for his father in his final days is an act of consummate literary bravery, allowing us to witness the final dance between two flawed and admirable men."
— Rob Wilder, author of Daddy Needs a Drink and Tales from the Teachers’ Lounge


"Here in detail is a story we fear for our loved ones, a story we fear for ourselves. Yet Thorndike also conveys the humor and joy, the contemplation and compassion, and the reconciliation and healing that were part of this journey. The result: The Last of His Mind is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming."
— Lady Borton, author of After Sorrow: An American Among the Vietnamese


"The frankness of this haunting memoir is totally disarming. Thorndike addresses the banalities and small tragedies that attend the great event of a lifetime with an unblinking eye. Told in his luminously clear prose, the plain story of the unraveling of a mind and a life find its way into the heart like our own blood. An important, beautiful book."
— Henry Shukman, author of The Lost City