Get to know Lena and Alan Miles, and find out what we aim to achieve with our Care Combine project

Lena and Alan MIles — happy in the rain at Media City Metro Station in Salford.
Lena and Alan MIles — happy in the rain at Media City Metro Station in Salford.
Lena and Alan Miles in January 2016 at Media City Metro Station in Salford. Thanks for a great photo, Åsa Thermaenius.

This is Alan, and I do the writing. But my inspiration is Lena, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers back in 2013.

At the time of the diagnosis, I thought our life together had ended. It hadn’t.

The period since then has been our toughest ever challenge and our biggest adventure — and we’d had plenty before. I think of it as our Everest. It’s even harder now as we get close to the top, but along the way there’s been no shortage of excitement, discovery, drama, uncertainty… and we’ve laughed more than we’ve cried. It’s a story worth telling…


Don’t leave them out as family reunions begin

Daughter Annelie has a broad grin as she embraces mother after coming by to visit
Daughter Annelie has a broad grin as she embraces mother after coming by to visit
Daughter Annelie comes by for a visit before bedtime (Photo: Alan Miles)

As lockdown lifts, many of us are looking forward to those big joyous family gatherings where we can finally tell our stories. That time when you managed to keep the kids awake for 20 minutes of the home history lesson. The confession that it was you who spooned down half the peanut butter jar in a moment of weakness — even though you hate peanut butter.

But some of us won’t remember a thing. Some of us won’t really understand what all the excitement is about. …


As Alzheimers advances, there’s no past — just now

Lena, diagnosed with Alzheimers, in an embrace with her brother and sister-in-law in the airport arrivals terminal.
Lena, diagnosed with Alzheimers, in an embrace with her brother and sister-in-law in the airport arrivals terminal.
Marie-Anne, Lena and Bosse two years ago — How will the visit be this time?

Bosse and Marie-Anne are coming from Sweden to visit us this week. Bosse is Lena’s brother. It’s been a couple of years since they’ve seen us, but Bosse calls regularly to see how Lena’s doing with her Alzheimers.

- I’m a bit worried. How is it going to be when she sees us?

I know why Bosse’s worried. Two years ago, I’d have passed the mobile to Lena after a minute or two, and they’d have chatted. …


Thanks for the memory, Google

A duck fliying low over a lake at dawn on a beautiful summer’s day, escaping from a fence on the lake’s edge
A duck fliying low over a lake at dawn on a beautiful summer’s day, escaping from a fence on the lake’s edge
Photo: Alan Miles

Sometimes you stumble across a thought you scribbled years ago, or a photo stashed away in a file — and seeing it again, you realise you only half-understood it at the time. Suddenly now, you see its real significance.

Google helpfully reminded me this morning of a photo from a dawn walk 8 years ago, when Lena’s Alzheimers was just a faint whisper in my ear.

This is what we want, Lena and I and millions of people with dementia and their caregivers — and all those who feel shut in and enclosed by age or illness. We want to…


You never wanted solutions because you thrive on conflict

Leaving. Man with a travelling bag, stepping out of the doorway into a big wide world.
Leaving. Man with a travelling bag, stepping out of the doorway into a big wide world.
Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

I know I’ve said it a dozen times before, but this time I really mean it. I’m leaving.

And it’s no good coming knocking at my door. You won’t get an answer.

Don’t try to stop me. This is it. Goodbye Politics.

“Democracy — the best of all possible systems to create the best of all possible worlds.” You sure had me fooled.

Everything started so well. We were going to change the world together. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick, fight injustice. Nothing was impossible.

We made a fine couple — my parents told us so…


POETRY | BLACK LIVES MATTER

He’s on the trail of a predator disease

A young African boy, wearing a mantle, carrying a stick, considers his future
A young African boy, wearing a mantle, carrying a stick, considers his future
Artwork with permission from Dale Webster

at a parched water-hole
beside a ragged thorn
he stood and watched dry-eyed
as his warrior-father fell

failed in his battle for life
brittle-boned and lonely
loser of love and family
to a predator disease

he took his small inheritance
his father’s staff and mantle
he took a silent oath
to hunt his kinfolk’s killer

sheltered by the mantle
guided by the staff
driven by the oath
he’s ready to begin


POETRY | BLACK LIVES MATTER

A moment of quiet reflection as the world rages

Artwork with permission from Dale Webster

It’s a good likeness.
I like the goodness —
Gracious me.
Poised.
Clear-eyed, purposeful,
A perfect model
Of self-possession.

Till darkness drops
Its howling demons
Pounding my womb with
Poison.

You brushed my cheek
And left, leaving
A faint impression.


Curated in 4 topics, but only 3 views! Here’s why.

A shipwrecked boat, just poking out above the water
A shipwrecked boat, just poking out above the water
Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

Yes, it was quadruple curation, the dream result for any aspiring Medium writer. Yet I was cursing my luck — and my own stupidity for wrecking the story I’d crafted. Here’s what happened, how I tried to fix things, and the lessons I’ve learnt.

Let’s start with the email I received May 19th — the date is significant:


Memories of another lockdown — Beirut 1975

That look of puzzlement, when you just can’t work things out.
That look of puzzlement, when you just can’t work things out.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Terry Mansfield started this off yesterday, with his reminiscences of life as an English teacher in Tokyo in the mid-1970s. I was teaching English back then too, but not in Japan. In Beirut. And we were in lockdown.

Not like today, in our own houses. But we couldn’t leave our little quarter of the city near the American University, because everywhere else civil war was raging.

In the early days, there was a frisson of excitement as we turned on the news. We were the news. What was happening? Were we in danger? How were we going to get out…

Alan Miles

Story-teller, runner, dementia caregiver — campaigning for positive change, starting with a haircut. (Website: https://carecombine.org)

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