No Winter Lasts Forever
An Interview with Faith & Grief Founder and Author, Fran Shelton about her debut memoir, No Winter Lasts Forever, A memoir of Loving Bob & Loathing Alzheimer’s.
No Winter Lasts Forever is the first-hand account of loving and living with Alzheimer’s. It shares the shock, disbelief, anger, pain, joy, humor, grief and finally letting go. It is a story of trusting in God and living in the moment while being grateful for every day. Yes, it is the story of a terrible disease striking too many families but more than that it is a love story.
We asked Fran to talk about the writing of the book and her thoughts on caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
What inspired you to start writing No Winter Lasts Forever?
I was inspired to write this book after teaching a Sunday school class. The topic of the class was about overcoming struggles and failures and at the end, I laughed and said, “Gee, I could write a book about this.” Liz Lawless came up to me afterward and said, “I could help you write that book.”
At that moment I saw that writing a book was possible. I also recognized that Bob had always wanted me to write a book of my sermons and prayers. Instead, I wanted to write about Bob and our struggle with Alzheimer’s
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
I hope people see pieces of their story—that love, and struggles are universal. One reader told me, “I felt like I was in your skin and things in my life resurfaced. I gained a new perspective on hope.”
What is the significance of the title?
The title came to me as I was writing about the Saturday before Bob died. Seeing the patch of white daffodils reminded me of Hal Borland’s quote and I thought, “That’s it!” Winter seems long, cold and void of growth and yet it is the exact opposite. Deep spiritual growth occurs in the winters, regardless of the calendar season.
Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover.
The process of the cover—well, I’m bossy, know what I want, and Bob and I had a sustaining fondness for robins. For several years, robins built a nest in our patio ceiling fan. I turned my idea over to my fantastic team and “Voila.”
If you had to describe Bob in three words, what would those three words be?
Three words for Bob—faithful (as in questioner and loyal), wise, sharp-witted. This is hard—that is who he was for everyone (including me). The list can go on and on.
What do you want readers to understand about Alzheimer’s by reading your book?
I hope readers get that “when you know one person with Alzheimer’s, you know one person.” The experiences are different and same. It can be, and was for me, an experience of a new calling to love in profound ways.
What did you think a caregiver’s role was and how do you think about caregiving, now?
I really don’t like the word caregiving. I met a woman in Kerrville and her name tag said, “Care Partner.” It is a partnership. The things I learned took every minute of the months to learn. I hope people learn more quickly than I did to get other partners — get help. Care partners are protective of their loved ones.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
The challenge of writing the book was my quasi addiction to Spider Solitaire.
What was the highlight of writing this book?
There were several high points. The first one was having Tammy and Jim (Bob’s children) say it was well-written. Many others along the way.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
Lana Self, a friend mentioned in the book, said, “If this becomes a movie, I want to play me!” Too funny!
You can buy No Winter Lasts Forever, join Fran’s Book Club and learn about Fran’s upcoming book events at frantiltonshelton.com.
FRAN TILTON SHELTON is a founder of Faith & Grief Ministries, leads bereavement workshops, spiritual retreats, and keynotes at conferences. For twenty years she served PC(USA) congregations in Texas, primarily in pastoral care and was affectionately called “Funeral Fran” by the love of her life and late husband, Bob. She’s the matriarch of her blended family of four children (and their spouses) and five grandchildren. She’s got the courage to take deep finesses in duplicate bridge, stamina to be a member of four book clubs and a spirit for life that sparks contagious laughter.
No Winter Lasts Forever is also available on Amazon.com.