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Joel Kriofske is a graduate of Marquette University’s College of Journalism, and spent many years working in print and broadcast media, the past several self-employed as a multiple-award-winning free-lance writer and marketing communications specialist. Professional activities include newsletters and varied communications for a number of clients, both commercial and industrial. He edited a biographical “expose” for a talented gate-crasher, leading to its publication in a major national magazine. Joel’s essay, “My Father the G-Man” was published in Milwaukee Magazine (and online: www.milwaukeemag.com). With wife, Mary, he was one of his father’s principal caregivers throughout his entire hospice, and served in that role for others, family members and friends alike. While the author does not presume to claim formal training, he has gained considerable experience, practical knowledge, even expertise in elder and hospice caregiving.
A poignant look at what may await many of us: The care of an elderly parent with dementia. The author, in later middle age, cares for his father, a former FBI Special Agent with an extravagant sense of humor, but too often angry and combative. Many of the scenes are set in taverns that the old man, an alcoholic, longs or demands to visit for a “shot and a beer” at the end of a day out with his son, the author – himself an alcoholic but a non-practicing one. The book explores the relationship the two had as the author was growing up, a relationship clouded by his sense that he could never please his father, even into adulthood. Devoid of bitterness, the story is told in a clear and winning style with great sensitivity and remarkable humor that cushions sadness and lightens the overall mood. Parents and adult children will greatly benefit from this beautifully-written book, using it as a starting point for discussion of how parents want to be cared for if they sink into dementia, and parent-adult child relationships in general. Both enjoyable and even fun, it’s a journey through irony and enlightenment that many “survivors” will recognize, thanks to the author’s keen understanding of generational contrasts and familial ties. The dissonant feelings between father and son are humorously described with compassion and understanding. A career Geriatric Social Worker and Health Care Provider who reviewed the book had this to say: “The author ‘nails it’ in terms of how to deal with a parent’s dementia, instead of fighting it. The book contains excellent methodology for anyone dealing with elder care. As an example: The author takes his father to bars, a ‘pastime’ the old man still thoroughly craves and enjoys. He quietly tells the bartender that his father thinks a mug of beer still costs $0.50, and so gives him cash to cover the real price, thus achieving the bartender’s cooperation and avoiding a confrontation. A great, comic example of entering the father’s reality vs. arguing over the fact that this is 2015, not 1940 or 50! The author’s approach is creative and realistic. Told by a master story-teller, the book is filled with smiles, tears and often out-loud laughter. I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with the pain of dementia or Alzheimer’s, while slowly losing a loved one in her or his care.”