A writing couple searches for answers when Alzheimer's causes one of them to lose the place where stories come from — memory.
At the age of fifty-three, Tony walks away from a life of journalism and into an unknown future. June is forty-eight, a writer and teacher, and over the following decade watches as her husband changes — in interests, goals, and behaviour — until Tony has a fall, ending the life they had known.
A diagnosis is seven years away, yet the signs of Alzheimer’s are all around. A suitcase Tony packs for a trip is jammed with four umbrellas, a visual symbol of cognitive looping. But how far back do these signs go? The couple starts probing the past and finding answers. This is not an old person’s disease.
June Hutton has written two novels and facilitates writing workshops at a treatment centre for addiction. Tony Wanless worked for a variety of newspapers across Canada, including the Financial Post and the Province, and is taking part in a study on Alzheimer's at UBC Hospital. They live in Vancouver.
The memoir skillfully weaves reflective emails from Wanless to Hutton into the narrative, allowing readers to witness step by painful step, the impact of the 'long, slow fade' the disease imparts.
The authors present a harrowing, moving seven-year odyssey, rendered in heart-wrenchingly sad yet compassionate and loving detail.
Heartbreaking, riveting, and thoroughly educational ... Four Umbrellas is a story about trauma, love, loss, redemption, reaching out, coming out, and bringing visibility to a topic that is fraught with social stigma.
Four Umbrellas is a moving and intimate memoir that rattled in my head with its simple beauty. Brimming with courageous, tender, and insightful reflections, the reader cannot help but be accidentally inspired.
June Hutton and Tony Wanless have written a rare gem of a memoir: a candid and clear-eyed insiders’ account of a couple’s journey into Alzheimer’s. With first-person narratives from both caregiver and patient, this is a journey of discovery valiantly shared. A must-read.
A groundbreaking book in both format and content, offering the reader a unique window into the couple's fearful, but also courageous, journey with Alzheimer's.