Heeding the Caregiver Call: The Story of Barbara Ella Milton, Sr. and Alzheimer's Disease

Barbara Ella Milton, Jr.

Book Cover

GENRE

BIOGRAPHICAL LGBT FAMILY

    Core Theme

    MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP, CAREGIVING, INTERNAL JOURNEY, REBIRTH

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    REMEMBER ISOBEL (2018) COMPLAINTS OF A DUTIFUL DAUGHTER (1994), STILL ALICE (2014) NO THANKS, WE'RE FINE (2011)

    CHARACTER LIST

    BARBARA ELLA MILTON SR.: 70S. FUNNY AND WITTY AND AT TIMES STRAIGHT-UP GOOFY.

    BARBARA ELLA MILTON JR: BARBARA SR'S DAUGHTER.

    KAY OSBORN: BARBARA JR'S WIFE

    MRS. S. BARBARA SR'S SENIOR AIDE: SHE WAS LIKE A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY

    Logline

    Mom had me at 14 yrs old and I am her only child. We had a conflictual and contentious relationship. She called me in the Fall of 2015 in the grips of Alzheimer's. I was battling bladder cancer and wondered if I could heed the call. I did and it transformed us along the journey.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning,LGBT Leaning

    Setting

    Camden, Secaucus and Englewood, New Jersey

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Xlibris

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    Mom and had both had childhoods characterized by abuse. Mom had me at 14 years and I was unwanted. I am her only child. Grandmom raised me til I was 9 years old, then I moved in with my mom. Life was not easy, not then and not for the next 40 plus years. Then the medical crisis hit us both.

    Ending Description

    The book shares insights on caregiving, self-care and coping with grief and loss. Mom died in Jan. 2019. We journeyed through resentments and regrets, forgiveness and faith, laughter and love.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    9781664143654

    Mature Audience Themes

    Sexual Abuse, Language/Profanity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Meaningful Message

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth

    Main Character Details

    Name: Barbara Ella Milton, Sr

    Age: 70's

    Gender: Lgbt

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Masculine,Badass,Aggressive,Uneducated,Funny,Insecure,Skillful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Barbara Ella Milton, Jr.

    Age: 55

    Gender: Lgbt

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Decisive,Skillful,Manipulative,Leader,Educated,Confident

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Kay Osborn

    Age: 70s

    Gender: Lgbt

    Role: logical

    Key Traits: Empathetic,Skillful,Strong Moral Code,Complex,Adventurous

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Genre

    LGBT, DRAMA

    Brief

    In 2015, Barbara Sr. called her only child, Barbara Jr., to ask for her help. Her family was unaware that Barbara Sr. was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. While battling her own cancer, Barbara Jr. embarks on a journey as her mother's caregiver through regrets, forgiveness, faith, humor, and love.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: EXCELLENT

    Commerciality: EXCELLENT

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: EXCELLENT

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: EXCELLENT

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    It’s accurate, but the logline could be improved.

    Draw of Story

    The story explores a mother-daughter journey through the heartbreaking experience of Alzheimer’s dementia. The book is written from the perspective of a Black, working-class, and LBGTQI+ family, which is quite unique in this genre. However, the narrative is relatable to anyone who has been afflicted with the disease.

    Possible Drawbacks

    There are a few chapters that feel like loose ends in the middle of the story, but they are helpful in describing a scenario or developing characters.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    This is a true story about the complicated relationship between mother and daughter that strengthens and repairs itself as the disease advances. The author offers insights into caregiving, self-care, and coping with grief and loss.

    Fanbase Potential

    Although this is not a narrative for fanbases, stories featuring loved ones dealing with tragic events are usually popular and relatable.

    Awards Potential

    In their nominations, the Awards have honored several tragic family stories, including disease-related ones, but many more didn't make the cut for the plot or screenplay. It would probably need to be reinforced by a notable director or cast if it wanted to make an impact.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    REMEMBER ISOBEL (2018), COMPLAINTS OF A DUTIFUL DAUGHTER (1994), STILL ALICE (2014), NO THANKS, WE'RE FINE (2011)

    What’s New About the Story

    Although the narrative is relatable to anyone who has been afflicted with the disease, the premise of depicting a Black, working-class, and LBGTQI+ family is quite unique in this genre. In addition to sharing the complexities of race, class, and gender experienced by these women, the author also provides practical guidance on getting ready for the end of life for anyone facing it.

    Lead Characters

    Barbara Jr. is a strong woman who has no reluctance to expose her childhood challenges and her dysfunctional family. We only get to see Barbara Sr. through her eyes, and she portrays her as a brave, proud, fiercely independent African-American lesbian at a time when such identity was stigmatized.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Even though there are a lot of caregiving movies out there, the premise of depicting a Black, working-class, and LBGTQI+ family is quite unique in this genre.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Studio, Indie, Streaming TV Series: Network, Cable, Limited Run / Mini-Series, Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    RECOMMEND

    Justification

    There is more to the story than just one topic. It shows the complexities of race, class, and gender during a time when these factors were at risk. Along with exploring the relationship between mother and daughter, the narrative is also an excellent combination of meaningful storytelling and practical information.

    Brief

    In 2015, Barbara Sr. called her only child, Barbara Jr., to ask for her help. Her family was unaware that Barbara Sr. was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. While battling her own cancer, Barbara Jr. embarks on a journey as her mother's caregiver through regrets, forgiveness, faith, humor, and love.

    What We Liked

    The story explores a mother-daughter journey through the heartbreaking experience of Alzheimer’s dementia. The book is written from the perspective of a Black, working-class, and LBGTQI+ family, which is quite unique in this genre. However, the narrative is relatable to anyone who has been afflicted with the disease.

    Film: The engaging story is unique as a movie because it is told from the perspective of a Black, working-class, and LBGTQI+ family, and there aren't many films about Alzheimer's disease that depict them. It's interesting to approach the mother-daughter relationship growing stronger at the same time as the disease affects the mother. There is also plenty of information about Alzheimer's and its impact on her behavior that contributes to her character development.

    TV: As a TV series, the moving mother-daughter relationship could be broken up into several episodes, illustrating their growing trust as the mother's health declines. We watch her mother's gradual slide into dementia, from the first hints of memory loss to the day she no longer recognizes her daughter, providing valuable insights and care tips. Each episode could focus on a different aspect of Alzheimer's disease and caregiving since it's an excellent combination of meaningful storytelling and practical information.

    Key points:
    A black family depicted
    Universal subject
    True story
    Family tragedies
    Meaningful message

    Synopsis

    Barbara Ella Milton Sr. was born in 1944 in Camden, New Jersey, to a single black mother. She enjoyed telling how she would dress as a boy and go downtown and shine shoes to make money. But there were parts of her childhood that she did not talk about, raising the suspicion that something terrible had happened to her.

    At the age of 14, she gave birth to her first and only child, Barbara Ella Milton Jr. The circumstances surrounding the conception were never told. Barbara Jr. tried many times to get that story from her mother, but she never told, so she deduced from her silence that the facts would not tell a happy story.

    For the first nine years of her life, Barbara Jr. lived with her grandmother, aunts, and uncles, who she experienced as siblings. Her mother came in and out of her grandmother's house after she was released from the state home, but Barbara Jr. did not realize for a long time that she was her mother.

    Barbara Sr. married a woman when Barbara Jr. was ten years old. This was in 1969, and it was a revolutionary act by some standards and, certainly, in pure defiance of cultural and religious norms.

    One day, Barbara Jr. asked Barbara Sr. to live with her, and they were destined to have a significant collision. She left her mother's home in the summer of 1977 after turning 18 years old and headed to early orientation for college. She ended up at a private women's Catholic college in Southwestern Pennsylvania on academic and sports scholarships.

    In 1993, Barbara Jr. met and fell in love with Kay Osborn, a British massage therapist 11 years older and mother of two teenagers. In the summer of 2012, Barbara Jr. was diagnosed with urothelial carcinoma, a type of cancer of the urinary tract lining.

    After Barbara Jr. left home, she and her mother had a turbulent relationship that eventually smoothed out into civil and guarded encounters organized around their blood ties and obligations. Kay and Barbara Jr. visited Barbara Sr. annually at Christmas and on her birthday in May. Around 2013, they noticed that she stopped making cards for people and shopping for gifts for the family. She was becoming disoriented to using the remote control and didn't know how to use the guide button.

    When Barbara Sr. was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Barbara Jr. started taking care of her bills, papers, contracts, appointments. Caring for her mother became the center of her life. With no money to hire aides, she found the solution with technology, installing cameras in the house to talk to her and check if she was taking her medicines.

    Barbara Sr.'s sorrow about the loss of her memory was compounded by the loss of her ability to do things that gave her pleasure. She would get so frustrated. She would ask for help, and then she would get angry and embarrassed and go into her spiral of low self-esteem. She was losing the ability to care for herself and was more dependent on her daughter, as evidenced by Pepper's attitude and behavior, her cat.

    As she was descending more rapidly into Alzheimer's, Barbara Jr. asked her what she wanted to do for her 74 birthday, and she said she wanted a party. They invited close friends and family to celebrate what could be her last birthday at her house.

    Soon, they started looking for a long-term care assessment and placement into a nursing home. Barbara Sr's senior aide, Mrs. S, who by this time was more like a member of the family, had made sure that she was clean and dressed nicely and had packed her bags. As time went by, her legs became weaker and her balance poorer, losing more and more of her actual vision. At that time, Barbara Sr. and Jr. had a series of excellent talks about her funeral wishes upon her passing.

    In January of 2019, Barbara Sr. totally forgot who Barbara Jr. was. She was struggling to keep her eyes open. At the same time, she had become nonverbal and was responding less to stimulation. She died on the morning of January 31. The passing of a resident is a big event, and Barbara Jr. could sense the reverberations throughout the building. Everyone knew what had happened, and everyone made it a point to offer us condolences.

    On the mark of the first anniversary of her passing, Kay and Barbara Jr. created a graveside ceremony with beautiful red carnations and said a prayer of love to her mother. As Kay and Barbara Jr. embraced while standing at her grave, she knew she was loved and missed and will never be forgotten.

    About The Author

    Barbara Ella Milton Jr. is a retired clinical social worker, educator, and activist. She writes about her life, social work career, and research on African American resilience. She contributed to the Confessions of a Welfare Mom series, co-authored a chapter in The Great Pause: Blessings and Wisdom from COVID-19 book, and contributed to a peer-reviewed opinion piece for the Psychosis Journal.