Detail from "A Requiem, Armenian Style" by Ruth Hodder
I discovered my parents' correspondence in mouse-infested boxes nearly a year after my mother's death in 2007. The letters tell with illuminating details the story of their life together, as a couple and as officers of the Salvation Army.
—Ruth Hodder, author
On the fifth anniversary of her mother's death, Winnipeg author Ruth Hodder will launch a book that she started writing after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Hodder, a former provincial civil servant, has since published several personal essays and articles on Alzheimer's Disease for medical journals, newspapers and magazines. She lives in Winnipeg with her husband Günter Krause and their dog Sam. She told SCENE about her first book:
I began writing A Requiem, Armenian Style on June 26, 2001, six years after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
I had been keeping diaries for nearly 25 years by then and was familiar with the act of using the written word as a future tool for remembering. But for a while at least, it was as if writing became a desperate attempt to keep my mother's forgetting at bay. It helped counterbalance, somehow, the losses I was experiencing on a near daily basis.
I knew few details about my maternal Armenian heritage when I began writing my book. As for the information I did have, it was vague, confused, fragmented. Three years into my writing project, Montreal professor Arpi Hamalian began translating into English my grandmother's diary, and the act of remembering took on a whole new meaning.
That project completed, Arpi translated the journals and diaries of my grandmother's sister, a well-known author in Soviet Armenia. Put together, the sisters' writings provide a small, but colourful, glimpse into my ancestors' lives and the world in which they lived. They also tell the story of how their lives were changed forever by the Genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey in 1915.