In a story spanning heartache and humour, Marie Williams writes about her family’s experience of younger onset dementia with motor neurone disease – a terminal illness they call the ‘Green Goblin.’ ‘This only happens to the elderly!’ people assume. Her husband, Dominic, is in his early forties.
Green Vanilla Tea is a story about love and life, in a world where so much is amiss, written as an offering of hope for their two teenage sons.
Marie’s writing started out as a spontaneous response to grief. Amidst the demands of caring for Dominic and parenting her sons, writing gave her time to pause.
It held still the paradox, where life was both empty and full, together and falling apart and the simplest things were the most extraordinary.
She wrote of love, loss and finding hope in inexplicable times.
After Dominic died in 2007, Marie collated her musings together for the boys – a way to give shape to a story that lay beyond the reach of articulation. So much of what they experienced felt invisible, slippery and without words.
Initially, Marie had no intention to publish. It was enough that her writing provided a launching pad for rich conversations with her sons. The human experience is intricate – as joyous as it is painful – and they explored it all. Whether chopping vegetables at the kitchen counter or driving to the supermarket they talked through every evolving chapter, finding the words and giving their story voice. Her sons’ reflections are woven throughout the pages of the book; something they can share with their own families one day.
This creative act of family storytelling went on to become an award winning memoir, “a story about love: a tale of a strange place – the real world – in which green goblins and hope find a way to live together.”
Above all, it is a love story.
Marie’s memoir, Green Vanilla Tea won the Finch Memoir Prize, 2013.
‘I dare you to read Green Vanilla Tea and not fall in love with this family. Marie Williams has written a beautiful memoir about facing illness and loss with love and hope. She has opened her family’s life and experiences to us in a way that will help us stay in touch with the richness of life and relationships, even in times of heartbreak and the loss of dreams. Thank you, Marie Williams, for this extraordinary love story.’
Jill Freedman, MSW, Family Therapist and Director of Evanston Family Therapy Center in Evanston, Illinois, as well as co-author of Symbol, Story, and Ceremony;Narrative Therapy; and Narrative Therapy with Couples.