A fantasy novel 40 years in the making has finally hit the shelves – three years after its author was diagnosed with dementia.
Grandmother Anita Dewhurst, 70, has no idea her lifelong dream of becoming a published author has finally been fulfilled.
The former NHS administrator, who holds a first-class degree in English and qualifications in mathematics and law, suffers from an aggressive form of dementia, and today struggles to recognise even the people closest to her.
Anita, who lives with her husband Rex on Warbreck Drive, North Shore, penned ‘The Charquery Key’ when her two sons, Michael and Chris, were still in nappies.
The novel follows Tom, an elderly man approaching the end of his years, who is whisked away to a magical kingdom of witches and goblins.
Bestowed with the gift of youth, he joins forces with four fantastical beings to protect the world from an evil presence. It is aimed at children aged eight to 14-years-old.
Anita’s granddaughter Amy, 31, who lives in Kirkham, said: “She always loved writing. But because she’s from an older generation, when she got married and had children they became her life. Then when my dad had me at 18, she starting looking after me. She was a big support for my mum and dad.
“She would keep going back and editing and re-editing. She would spend all day at it. I’d go out to work on a morning and come back at 5pm and she would still be there at the kitchen table with her laptop open.” Determined to improve her novel and have it published in bookshops all over the country, Anita embarked on an English degree at Blackpool and The Fylde College when she was in her 60s, shortly after Amy left home.
But tragedy struck three years ago when Anita was diagnosed with vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by reduced blood supply to the brain due to diseased blood vessels. The condition affects more than 150,000 people in the UK and causes memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving and speaking.
Her husband, retired cafe owner Rex, 77, said: “There’s nothing she can do. She’s not herself any more.
“She had a brilliant brain. She was a very bright woman. She’s still a lovely girl and we will love her forever, but we can’t really communicate with her any more. She’s not the person she used to be.”
Amy added: “Everything about her has changed. She was the matriarch of the family and kept us all together.
“She can’t string a sentence together any more. She will repeat things and that’s as much conversation you will get. She’s got no concept of time, no concept of what she’s wearing. She doesn’t know whether it’s day or night.
“She was a very proud woman. She very much cared what other people thought of her.”
Knowing Anita would never get the chance to finish her life’s work, her family took it upon themselves to edit The Charquery Key and submit it for publication.
The final version of the 170-page book was published this month, and can be purchased online.
Amy said: “It’s the one thing we can do to show her how much we love her, and how much we appreciate everything she has done for us.
“It’s everything she’s ever wanted and it’s such a shame that she can’t hold that book herself and understand what it means.
“She still reads books, but whether she’s actually taking the sentence in we just don’t know.
“We hope that there’s a glimmer of understanding in there somewhere.
“She’s still very strong-willed and confident and I know she would be so proud of herself. It’s her life-long dream and it’s finally come true.”
The Charquery Key by Anita Dewhurst can be bought online at www.amazon.co.uk.