Dr Glennis Mafi; Rampart Publishing, 2020, (p100)
ISBN 978-0-473-51866-0

On the face of it, retired GP Glennis Mafi’s book is about the experience of her father, Ralph Wood, as he lived through dementia. But at its heart, I’m Ralph, I’m Dad is a book about family and, more specifically, a family’s love and commitment to its members.

Small glimpses

Ralph was a former accountant, a loving father and husband, a steadfast Christian, and a keen sailor, gardener, swimmer and tennis player. Aspects of his life played out in the midst of dementia, revealed through suddenly voiced recollections or in the little habits he had formed over a lifetime.

These small glimpses into Ralph’s interior world gave his children and grandchildren assurance and insight that, underneath this degenerative neurological condition, the man they respected and loved was still there.

An interesting mix

Mafi tells her father’s story through an interesting mix of her poems, a few family photos, illustrations by her talented artist step-brother Graham Braddock, and factual notes about dementia, its challenges and treatments. The tone is light, respectful and informative, which makes it perfect reading for those who may be facing similar challenges in caring for a family member experiencing dementia.

“A great read”

It is a slight book—at around 100 pages it can easily be skimmed through in one sitting—but it is one that you may wish to linger over, reflect on and re-visit periodically. As Dr David Richmond, Professor Emeritus of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Auckland, writes in the book’s foreword, it is “not just a manual on dementia, but a great read in its own right”.

As someone whose parent also lived through dementia, and who was not prepared emotionally or with the knowledge of the disease that I needed, I wish I had had a copy of this book back then. I am sure that, as Dr Mafi has wished it to be, I’m Ralph, I’m Dad will be a blessing to many.

Reviewer: Linda Grigg