Anna captures emotions with her heart-felt Alzheimer’s story

Friends' pupil Anna Finlay has proven herself to be a talented author.
Friends' pupil Anna Finlay has proven herself to be a talented author.

One Friends’ student has captured the emotions of the public with a heartfelt story about Alzheimer’s.

Anna Finlay put herself in the shoes of someone suffering from the disease to pen a short story entitled ‘Unforgettable.’

Her words clearly struck a chord with many on social media, the reaction ‘overwhelming.’

“I was inspired to write this story as I have gained a valuable insight into Alzheimer’s disease, after my mum’s father was diagnosed with it in 2011,” said the author.

“Originally, it didn’t affect me and I wasn’t acutely aware there was anything wrong; but, over time, as the situation has developed, I am continually building on my understanding of the disease and the devastating effects it can have.

“I can only begin to imagine the mind set of someone who has dementia, and so in this story I portray a fragment of what I believe it could feel like. The setting of the story is an extremely treasured location, which my mum and her family have grown up with as a second home. It continues to provide the perfect holiday residence.”

That location is Portnoo, where the character details a walk along the familiar beach. That is followed by a trip to hospital when “I walk out of the Doctor’s room differently to how I walked in.”

“Before I went into that room I didn’t have a life long, cureless disease,” the story continues. “I didn’t have Alzheimer’s. I couldn’t escape it, as the multiple leaflets in my hand readily reminded. 

“Life goes on, no matter how many tears are shed. Time can’t be paused for convenience... unfortunately.”

The final scene describes a heart-wrenching walk, at the same location as the first but with none of the familiarity.

“I know there’s something wrong,” the character says, “but I’m not sure what. I know that every morning I get up, I take 12 tablets, but I don’t know what for. I got up this morning and got dressed, only to be told it was the middle of the night. I know it’s a day in the week, but I don’t know which one. I know I have children, but I’m not sure who they are. I know a lot of things – vaguely - but I don’t know why or when or how or who.

“One day I’m in the car, my wife is driving. I know there are suitcases in the boot, but I don’t know of their contents. I drift asleep. When I wake up, she gets me out of the passenger seat and tells me we are going for a walk on the beach. She says it in such a way that sounds like I should know the beach. 

“I untie my laces and take off my socks and carefully place them by the wall. I walk to the shore and let the gentle water swish over my toes. We, my wife and I, walk for a time before coming to some rocks. 

“I’m instructed that we are going to have a rest here before returning to the car. I take a minute to look around and try and comprehend where we are. In the distance, to my left, I see a small white cottage with a green door - it seems nice. I also see a church with a big spire, a few houses, a post office and a harbour. 

“Nothing recalls any memories; maybe I’ve never been here before. 

“I ask my wife to see if I should know this place and she responds saying that I once knew it very well. I don’t understand, it all seems so unfamiliar. 

“I catch eye contact with her again. A pleading expression drowns her face; she wants me to remember, but I can’t. Her eyes flicker away from mine and I see the water glisten in their corners as it proceeds to leave a shimmering trail down her cheek. 

“This place I’m in, I know it’s meant to mean a lot to me, but I don’t know why.”

Friends’ School rightly praised Anna for her emotional story.

“She has proved just how powerful the written word can be at reaching the hearts of many, and has helped to raise awareness of this important issue by which so many are affected,” said a statement.