A Path Revealed: How Hope, Love, and Joy Found Us
How Hope, Love, and Joy Found Us Deep in a Maze Called Alzheimer’s
Tampa Bay, FL—Carlen Maddux’s book, A Path Revealed, traces the story of a 17-year journey with his wife Martha and their family after she was diagnosed in 1997 with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She had turned 50 only days before.
“We felt like we’d been shoved out of a plane 10,000 feet up with no parachutes,” Carlen says of their heartbreaking news. But A Path Revealed is not about the fallout from an insidious disease. Rather, he says, “It’s the story of a path emerging during our darkest hours, a path that we neither planned nor foresaw.”
Carlen is the former editor of Tampa Bay’s Maddux Report business magazine, which he launched in 1984 and closed in 2010. Martha was a civic activist who in the 1980s served on the St. Petersburg City Council during some of its most tumultuous years. Among the most controversial decisions was the financing and construction of what is now Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. At the time of her diagnosis, Martha chaired Pinellas County’s Juvenile Welfare Board. The year before her diagnosis, she ran for the Florida Legislature and lost in the primary by 20 votes.
The first person Martha and Carlen shared this devastating news with was their friend and mentor, the late Rev. Lacy Harwell, also a civic activist in St. Petersburg, supporter of Eckerd College, and pastor at Maximo Presbyterian Church. At his urging, Martha and Carlen traveled to the backwoods of Kentucky to visit a Catholic nun and good friend of Rev. Harwell’s. Quiet conversations with this nun revealed a path previously unseen by the couple.
“This path wasn’t easy to follow,” says Carlen. “The issues arising along the way were often dark and beyond frustrating. But the further we walked, the more we realized a light was breaking through from somewhere deep within, bracing us with hope, love, and joy.” Carlen was forced to slow down as he traced this path halfway around the world to Australia; retreated weekends to St. Leo Abbey in Pasco County; embraced meditation; and landed all alone in the cabin of the late Thomas Merton, the civil rights activist, Vietnam war protester, and monk.
In 1976, Martha was the south Pinellas manager for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. In 1982, she co-managed Peter Wallace’s first campaign for the Florida Legislature, where he served as Speaker of the House from 1994 to 1996. She also worked locally on Gov. Lawton Chiles’ 1990 gubernatorial campaign. Prior to launching the Maddux Report, Carlen was a business writer with the St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times. Currently, he writes a blog at www.carlenmaddux.com sharing insights learned along their 17-year journey.
The publisher of A Path Revealed is Paraclete Press based in Cape Cod, MA. The book can be purchased on its website, http://www.paracletepress.com/, or on Amazon.com. Or it can be found locally at Haslam’s Book Store in St. Petersburg, at Inkwood Books in Tampa, or at a Barnes & Noble book store.
About Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a burgeoning crisis. As the baby-boomer generation surges into retirement age, the number of persons in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow by one-third or more in the next decade—to 7.3-million by 2025. But that’s only part of the story. For every person with Alzheimer’s, roughly three more are primary and secondary caregivers, swelling the number of those directly affected to 29.2-million. Of those persons with Alzheimer’s, almost two-thirds are women, and four percent are under 65 years of age. (Source: Alzheimer’s Association, 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures).
The Florida Gulf Coast chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that within its service area 189,000 persons are living with Alzheimer’s.