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Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney





(Updated 12:30 a.m., Dec. 4)
Orléans senior publishes follow up to book about late husband's battle with Parkinson's disease

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Belcourt Manor resident Mary Dunne has her hands full with her two books and her beloved Yorkshire Terrier, Rosie. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Mary Dunne wrote poetry and short stories all her life, but it wasn't until her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2009, that she felt compelled to write her first book, "Sorrows, Joys and Blessings: Our Walk With Parkinson's", which she published in 2013.

Three years later, the 74-year old widow, mother and grandmother has published a sequed, To Lend A Helping Paw: The Healing Power of Unconditional Love.

In the first book, Mary tells the story of her husband’s diagnosis and how they dealt with its debilitating impact on their lives.

When Jim Dunne was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009, it turned their lives upside down. They managed to deal with the disease and the psychological and physical impact it had on Jim as best they could, together.

It was an extremely emotional time for Mary and she dealt with her emotions by taking notes, first on bits of paper and sticky notes, and later in a journal, writing down how she felt and what she and Jim were going through.

“It was my way of coping,” says Mary. “I didn’t have anyone I could really talk to back then. Sometimes the emotions were so strong just writing them down or dictating them into my iPhone was a relief. It was therapeutic, really.”

The book includes a number of poems and thoughts Jim shared with Mary as his symptoms worsened. It’s also a reflection of their lives before they met in 1961, and after they were married six months later.

“The book was supposed to be about the impact Parkinson’s had on our lives, but as I was putting it together I realized that it was really about grieving. You can grieve the loss of your eyesight, or losing the ability to drive a car. These are all forms of grieving and they’re all about loss. We grieve what we lose.”

The book was published in June 2013, five months later the disease claimed Jim’s life. To fill the void left by the loss of her husband, Mary bought a dog in April 2014, but not just any dog, a pure bred Yorkshire Terrier named Rosie.

“It was really a rough time in my life and I did a lot of research on different breeds and I found Rosie. She’s helped me in so many ways,” says Mary.

Two years after getting Rosie, Mary felt well enough to go on an extended trip to Florida with her friend Thelma Oakes who owned a property in the Sunshine State.

“When I was down there I just came out one afternoon and started writing again,” Mary recalls. “I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book. I was just writing down my thoughts about Rosie and how she helped me through the grieving process. After a while, it just made sense to do another book.”

Thelma helped edit the book which explores the important role pets can play in dealing with grief and personal loss through their unconditional love.

To Lend A Helping Paw: The Healing Power Of Unconditional Love is a collection of pictures, poetry and stories. Picking up from where her first book left off, Mary writes about her own personal journey through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, blame, depression and acceptance – and she adds a sixth stage... letting go, which she managed to do with Rosie’s help.

The little Yorkshire Terrier has been adopted by the residents of Belcourt Manor which Mary has called home since the Jim’s illness forced them to sell their own home.

To Lend A Helping Paw: The Healing Power Of Unconditional Love is published by Midnight Reading Publishing in large print and is available at www.amazon.com/Lend-Helping-Paw-Healing-Unconditional/dp/1539552748.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)





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