When Paul was a child, he watched his Nanna Russell slowly slip away, taken by the unforgiving grip of dementia.
Prior to World War II, Gladys Russell owned a thriving millinery shop making hats for Sydney’s finest. After enlisting and serving at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, she married and started a family of her own.
These family stories and memories so many of us treasure were all but lost when Gladys was diagnosed with dementia, robbing her family of her first hand accounts of her youth and life before the war.
When Gladys passed away in 2007 after a long-fought battle with the illness affecting over 400,000 Australians each year, Paul decided to write down his own childhood accounts of his grandmother, which became the first draft of his children's book and dementia resource, Grandma Forgets.
"I wrote the book from my own perspective as the child about the stories I remember of my grandmother," he told Mamamia.
Grandma Forgets tells the story of a family bound by love as they cope with their grandma’s dementia. Over the years, the little girl has built up a treasure trove of memories of time spent with Grandma: sausages for Sunday lunch, driving in her sky-blue car to the beach, climbing her apple trees while she baked a delicious apple pie, and her comforting hugs during wild storms.
But now, Grandma can’t remember those memories.
Written from Paul's perspective as a child having watched his grandma's decline, as well as a teacher and father to his own children, at the heart of Grandma Forgets is the message that while grandma might not remember any names, she will always know how much she is loved.