by Jarrod Jones. What is a life but the sum of our experiences? Moments of love, fear, despair, exhilaration, more, each a challenge. Every moment being an instant where we were pushed, pulled, tested. Where we stand right now is the result of all these moments. Who we are—how we are—without them is unfathomable.
Which is what makes Alzheimer’s such a tragic disease. People lose these moments, lose names, faces, their entire sense of self. This ultimate test is a moment one should never endure alone. By the grace of humanity there are people in this world driven to help others when their days begin to grow dimmer and their world becomes smaller.
Consider Little Josephine: Memory in Pieces, a graphic novel available now from Humanoids Publishing’s Life Drawn imprint. It’s a true life account with a kaleidoscopic touch, a comic strip that reaches out to the reader, to inform, to help, to connect. It’s beautiful. Writer Valérie Villieu spent years taking care of Josephine, an Alzheimer’s patient who lived alone and grew more isolated and alienated by her disease. As we read through Valérie’s experiences we come to know Josephine’s—and come to appreciate the indelible relationship that grew between these two people, despite the disease that would otherwise keep them apart.
Courtesy of Humanoids, DoomRocket has an exclusive excerpt from Little Josephine: Memory in Pieces available below. It’s a moment in Villieu’s story where Josephine is finally going outside after months of staying home, to visit her optician for a new pair of glasses. We watch Valérie walk with Josephine through the trying first steps through the loud and open city streets, when it’s clear that bed and quiet is a much-preferred alternative for Josephine. But then they reach the optician’s office. And the doctor is handsome. The glasses are understated. These moments come together, and later there’s a chance to enjoy a moment at a local café. Josephine is smiling.
Through these illustrations by Raphaël Sarfati, who incorporates photographs from days long since past into the artwork to lend it distinctive narrative power, we attempt to understand where Josephine’s mind was during a day when the clouds seemed to lift. If only for a little while.
$17.99 | £14.99 | $23.99 Can. | 120 pgs. | AVAILABLE NOW
From Life Drawn, an imprint of Humanoids Publishing: LITTLE JOSEPHINE is an account of the author’s experience caring for the elderly Josephine. Though vastly different in age, their connection is instantaneous—and despite the debilitating disease that Josephine faces every single day, they’re able to form a beautiful friendship that transcends the reaches of modern medicine. Equal parts heartwarming, whimsical, and chilling, LITTLE JOSEPHINE charts the highs and lows of their relationship as Valérie attempts to care for, understand, and communicate with the loving and capricious Josephine in the face of her escalating dementia and an indifferent elder care system.
As Josephine escapes the boundaries of the page in search of clarity, readers are forced to reckon with the same instability and uncertainty she faces daily—as well as reckon with the realities of an overburdened system that makes the lives of Alzheimer’s patients far harder than they need to be. This first-hand account of an unlikely friendship between a visiting nurse and her patient becomes a much bigger story as the author draws poignant connections to love, memory, society, and what we owe to one another.