Reviews | Elaine K. Sanchez

Reviews for Letters from Madelyn

LettersCover“At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to read all these letters from a caregiver I didn’t know to a daughter I didn’t know. I wondered where this unique format was taking me and if it was worth my trouble. Then I sort of got captured. Madelyn’s caregiving experience mirrored my own in an almost scary fashion, as I had spent 15 years taking care of my late wife with her strokes and vascular dementia. I experienced so many of the same things Madelyn did, including the anger, anxiety, guilt, ambivalence, fatigue, extended grieving and eventually relief when it ended, along with a new load of guilt and uncertainty. But I felt personally involved with Madelyn and her struggles and her humor and wit and wisdom and caring and resourcefulness and pain. I wanted to check my literary mailbox constantly for the next letter from this very real person I got to know so intimately and care so much about. I zipped through the book. I think current caregivers will feel encouraged by her surprisingly honest, open (sex even) and frank letters and realize they are not weird or bad for feeling as they do and they are not alone. Dear Madelyn’s been there already and she handled it and so can the rest of us. My only gripe is that now I’m in love with a dead lady I probably won’t get to meet until it’s my turn to go.” – Don Wendorf, Psy.D. (Psychologist; musician; author of Caregiver Carols: a Musical, Emotional Memoir)

“Letters From Madelyn: Chronicles of a Caregiver is the true story of a Kansas farm woman who, despite her own failing health, provided care for her husband after his debilitating stroke. Her story is told through letters to her daughter, and included anecdotes about the difficulty of obtaining proper health care, the long-term realities of illness and aging, and the transcendent powers of faith, humor, and family. Details about surviving the day-to-day labors of physical caregiving as well as a big picture about what truly matters in life make Letters From Madelyn an invaluable read, cover to cover, especially for anyone coping with a loved one’s slow deterioration.” – James Cox, Midwest Book Review

“When reading Letters from Madelyn: Chronicles of a Caregiver 2nd Edition, Madelyn Kubin reminded me of my Aunt Wilma because my aunt was diagnosed with congestive heart failure when she was a family caregiver for my ailing uncle who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Several relatives become unexpected family caregivers, so Madelyn Kubin’s letters tell the poignant story of the aging spousal caregiver providing care to her husband despite overcoming the challenges of debilitating medical conditions of her own. Because Quentin evolves into a different person than Madelyn knew from years of marriage, this book underscores the challenges of family caregivers when caring for loved ones diagnosed with dementia because the progressive stages of this disease steals ailing relatives’ psyche from them, so they evolve into unpredictable people we’ve never known.

If you’re looking for a poignant and funny way to remain upbeat despite the obstacles of a family caregiver role, this inspiring book is a must read.” – Rob McClenahan, Right at Home –– In Home Care & Assistance

“I could barely put down the book as I read how Madelyn coped with her husband’s illness. The letters were easily read and kept my interest from the first to the last. Her trials and how she handled them were helpful in more ways than one. They gave me insight to the problems caregivers have and how each situation is handled differently. I could relate to some of her problems as my husband has Alzheimer’s Disease and there are some of the letters that told of her situation which allowed me to empathize. I think anyone who is a caregiver could benefit from reading the letters and they were not all doom and gloom, there were times of laughter at the situations she faced which made me smile and even chuckle as I read them. I would recommend the book Letters From Madelyn very highly.” –
Vivian Helms

“I really enjoyed this book. I felt drawn in and suddenly became part of Madelyn’s family. I thought the author was so lucky to have gotten so many handwritten letters from her mother. That is something to be cherished.
I found Madelyn to be a terrific caregiver and many times found her very funny. My feeling is that we have to tap into our sense of humor to get through the difficult task of being a caregiver. I couldn’t help but wonder how the author felt about being far away from her parents. It must have been difficult to read some of the letters when her mother was going through tough periods.” – Laura Stark, Public Speaker, The Stark Reality of Caregiving

“What’s it like in the caregiving trenches? Madelyn Kubin’s letters to her daughter, Elaine, paint a clear picture of this demanding role. Over the years Elaine received hundreds of letters from her mother, written to combat the struggles and isolation of caregiving. Elaine chose the best letters for this collection—powerful words from a powerful woman.

Madelyn became her husband’s caregiver in 1992 after he suffered a stroke. Her own health problems, macular degeneration, congestive heart failure, and profound hearing loss, didn’t stop Madelyn from caregiving. I cheered for her when I read about the lift she rigged up to move her husband, planting herbs and flowers from seed, and learning to use writing software. A caregiver myself, I marveled at Madelyn’s determination and grit.

Instead of letting caregiving get her down, Madelyn chose to see it as a growth experience. “My greatest joy in life comes from learning and growing mentally and spiritually,” she wrote in one letter. Madelyn’s indomitable spirit shines through in these letters and I wished I had known her. By the time I reached the end of the book I felt like a member of the family. When I learned that Madelyn died of heart failure in 2002 I cried.

Madelyn’s survival tips can help all caregivers. I recommend Letters from Madelyn to active caregivers and those considering the role. It’s an inspiring read and celebration of life.” – Harriet Hodgson, Caregiver, Health and Wellness Writer

“How I wish I’d read Letters from Madelyn about three years ago.  I lost my husband to Lewy Body Dementia about 3 months ago.  I was his caregiver until the last few weeks of his life.  If I’d had Madelyn’s letters and just read one letter a day I’d have found inspiration, ideas for coping with the physical and emotional stress, a stronger humor perspective and affirmation that I was doing some things correctly and I would have had less guilt about anger when I lost patience.  Madelyn hits the nail on the head so many times, aptly describing certain behaviors of her husband Quentin, the often backbreaking and unpleasant everyday tasks of the caregiver, the frustrations, the anger and utter exhaustion.  Some of her letters were so poignant because I had experienced the same situations.  I knew exactly what she meant when she talked about “detachment.”  This isn’t a technical or medical book but it tells the story of a remarkable woman who despite her own medical conditions displayed extraordinary faith and love for her husband and other family members.  Each day she did her best to care for her husband and worked hard to provide intellectual and physical stimulation and social opportunities and always had hope that he would improve.  She also had the wisdom to carve out time for herself occasionally and meet with friends or take a class and keep up with her faith journey. I wish I’d known Madelyn and had her to advise me in person.

The book is easy to read.  One letter a day can almost serve as a daily inspirational read but sometimes I read quite a few letters to learn the outcomes of a trip or a treatment regimen; or, I kept reading because it was humorous and I cared about Madelyn.  I definitely recommend this for anyone who is a caregiver.” – Mary Morman 

“In this newest edition of her book, Letters from Madelyn: Chronicles of a Caregiver, Elaine Sanchez again shares portions of letters received from her mother, Madelyn Kubin, during her six-and-a-half year journey of caring for her husband, Quentin, after he suffered a debilitating stroke.

Nothing is withheld as Madelyn pours out her day-to-day story, emotions, and feelings of stress, isolation, frustration, anger, loss of dignity, vulnerability and depression as she struggles to keep some sense of normalcy in their lives while also experiencing guilt that she may not be doing enough or loving Quentin enough.

While the book is open, honest, and frank about the hardships of being a caregiver, the reader is also privileged to learn of Madelyn’s strength of character, her love for her husband, her deep spirituality, and her wonderful sense of humor.

We are taught that, while a caregiver feels terribly alone in the situation, –– Madelyn says, “I get real lonesome to see people and to have a good conversation,” –– there are countless others who are sharing the same journey.  Madelyn helps prepare us to expect the unexpected daily, to know our limitations, and to pick our battles.  Caregivers will see themselves and their care receivers in many of the situations, and learn how to better deal with them, and perhaps even learn how to be more gracious care receivers when and if our time comes.

I highly recommend this book.  The First Edition became a source of strength for me in helping to care for six elderly relatives and two friends in a seven-year period of time.  If you ever get a chance to hear Elaine speak at a workshop or conference in your area, please do so.  I started crying after her first sentence and didn’t stop until she was hugging me at the end.  But along the way I also laughed really hard and found a measure of peace.” – Linda Nelson

“Caregiving a loved one is hard, lonely, unrelenting, and often unappreciated.  Even in situations where the caregiver has close-by family and friends, the common dynamic is to focus on the “sick” person … the one receiving the care. How are they doing? What do they need? In this maelstrom, the caregiver’s needs can be overlooked and rarely are attended to with much fervor. Which is so unlike the phenomenon when someone dies. No one needs to tell the rest of us how much grief is felt by the survivors. We send cards, express sympathy, fix food, and stay close.

I write this from the experience of caring for my husband who has Parkinson’s. Over the ten years since his diagnosis, he has declined dramatically. He won’t ever get better and he won’t stay the same. The man I married is gone and won’t be back.

When your spouse leaves you inch by inch, slowly, over time to the progression of a hideous disease, unlike death, this loss creates grieving without end that can be little noticed by those around you.

Hence, one more burden falls on the caregiver … the burden of asking for help, for understanding, for empathy. Those who love the caregiver are willing and often astounded when they hear how much pain and deficit the caregiver is experiencing.

For me “Letters from Madelyn” is warm, supportive, and real. Each story touches on something I’m experiencing. Through Madelyn’s humor, wisdom, and common sense, I feel understood and less lonely. She writes with uncompromising candor and insight. She’s a learner who resilience in stepping up to the increasing and ever changing demands of her husband’s condition is amazing. As I read the book, I laugh, I cry, and I identify with her.

This is a sweet volume that energizes and empowers. I recommend the book for caregivers and for those who love a caregiver.” – Sharon A. Thorne

Letters from Madelyn is a series of straight talking letters to Madelyn’s daughter, Elaine.  These letters reveal slices of life lived in the small town of McPherson, Kansas, along with the trials and tribulations of caretaking mixed in with nuggets of wisdom: “…when the ego of Madelyn takes over, it is terrible.”  I can relate to such a statement – it is an echo of my own situation.   One other sage nugget of wisdom:  “Acceptance is key.”  Each letter is a mixture of realistic details of living life with a deteriorating loved one, yet most include something hopeful.  Madelyn obviously keeps going through being involved with her family and strong faith.

Letters from Madelyn is especially relevant to someone coping with the concerns of older age while caring for a long-time partner who is deteriorating.  All the Letters are written in a personal, straightforward style that is easy to read.” – Kathy Lindsay

“I have been very comforted by reading this book.

My husband has been bedridden for the past 3 years with no hope of getting better. I also take care on my days of respite my 92 year old parents.

I have found through reading this book that I too can laugh, cry, find peace and joy in the midst of tragedy. Her honesty and straightforward writings brought reality to the happenings in my life.

I have read this book once quickly because I couldn’t put it down. Now I am reading it with my hi-lighter. The next time I will be reading it with my daughter.

I will gladly recommend this book as a must read for anyone who is caregiving.

Thank you Elaine Sanchez for sharing such personal letters.” –Elisabeth Cardiel

“It was hard to put this book down after I started  to read it.  Although it deals with some difficult subjects facing a caretaker, it is very entertaining and humorous. Madelyn is a wonderful writer and very articulate.  You can just picture the situations she describes that she faces as her husband’s caretaker.   I think it is a “must read” for anyone who is a caretaker of a loved one.” – Lois Leman

“I not only found the reading pleasant, but I discovered in the protagonist, Madelyn an exceptional woman and an example for all of us, with an integrity, a passion for this life, and constantly new interests absolutely admirable.

Letters from Madelyn –  Chronicles of a Caregiver is in fact the story  of a series of letters Madelyn, the protagonist of this story start to sends to her daughter Elaine, (later adding also Elaine’s fiance and later husband Alex) after that her husband Quentin experiences a terrible stroke in 1993. Madelyn starts to write with frequency to her daughter at the beginning of 1994 until 1999. 

 This book is a quick reading  thanks to the precious words of Madelyn, a woman who fought with all herself for her beloved husband until the end, someone who taught many spiritual lessons to all of us thanks to her precious, wise words spread in her numerous letters.

The daughter Elaine K.Sanchez in the foreword writes that these letters, edited by her once her beloved mother Madelyn passed away were long something like 5-10 pages.

Madelyn keeps updated her daughter about everything. Her husband Quentin and his conditions, her flowers, weather, neighbors, activity at the church, her reading, in particular The Unity and many other spiritual authors and books.

Madelyn was a letter writer for sure with a great, impressive, perfect and fresh writing-style.

What it is special in Madelyn is this:  going on although her husband seriously sick, with a big smile on her face and a special optimistic attitude for life, people and events.

Once she fell in love for Reiki and she discovered she could heal some Quentin’s pains with the power of Reiki and her hands. Although Quentin’s health was precarious, she tried all her best to give him dignity and fun time.
Another time we will find Madelyn arranging “romantic” meetings ( to the restaurant all together for eating something) between Quentin and an old flame Avis and her husband. Yes because Quentin started to develop at a certain stage of his illness a true great fixation for sex. Once he asked to Madelyn to have sex with her. He was strongly refused. “Sex a chapter of our life over, dear.”

So Quentin’s fixation for Avis, another pretty sick lady.

You will also discover in a special section pictures of all the family Kubin. Special people.

This one I read is the second edition of this book and in the while Elaine, the daughter, developed a website thanks to the success of the first edition:

I am not surprised. Madelyn was a special special human being and her message extremely powerful.

Her daughter writes Madelyn inspired by authors like Napoleon Hill and Norman Vincent Peale an author, this second one I love so badly for the great power of his words.

I have quotes of his books in many corners of the house, for remembering always how precious and great life is.

I am sure that Madelyn was inspired by these great minds but at the same time I I think Madelyn was inspired by herself and her wonderful light and soul. She spread love, compassion, help to her husband and everyone she knew.

Published by WriteLifePublishing, this one is the beautiful portrait born thanks to her written words, letters of a beautiful life very well spent. An example of the life  lived and spent as maybe should be spent and a proud example of love and dedication to the others.

I strongly suggest this book to everyone.” – Anna Polidori for the Alfemminile Blog

5 stars. “Fascinating read, how the author and her mother used to write letters to each other after her mother suffered long term degenerative disease. The stories honor her mother.” – Pam Thomas for NetGalley

5 stars. “This book is a must for health care professionals who work with elderly patients and their families. This story documents not only the joys, frustrations, and heartaches of being a family caregiver, but thoughts on how to cope as well. Madelyn uses her sense of humor, her deep and curious faith, her love for her husband and family, and her quest for knowledge to continue to live and thrive despite difficult circumstances. Family caregiver burnout is a well-documented problem. Health care providers can use Madelyn’s thoughts to start conversations with caregivers and their families to help them cope more effectively and realize that they are not alone.” – Cheryl LaPlante (Educator) for NetGalley

“Lovely read! Would highly recommend to everybody. A funny read with it’s ups and downs, with a story that has the power to start important conversations.” – Shelby Amess for NetGalley