Leaving Tinkertown

Leaving Tinkertown

by Tanya Ward Goodman


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When Tanya Ward Goodman came home to New Mexico to visit her dad at the end of 1996, he was fifty-five years old and just beginning to show symptoms of the Alzheimer's disease that would kill him six years later. Early onset dementia is a shock and a challenge to every family, but the Wards were not an ordinary family. Ross Ward was an eccentric artist and collector whose unique museum, Tinkertown, brought visitors from all over the world to the Sandia Mountains outside Albuquerque. In this book Tanya tells Ross's story and her own, sharing the tragedy and the unexpected comedy of caring for this funny, stubborn man who remained a talented artist even as he changed before his family's eyes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826353665
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Publication date: 08/15/2013
Series: Literature and Medicine Series
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Tanya Ward Goodman's essays have appeared in the Cup of Comfort anthology series, Literary Mama, The Huffington Post, and TheNextFamily.com. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

With It 1

Sandia Park: December 1996 3

Things Start to Get Weird: December 1996 7

Circling the Wagons: April 1997 19

The Weeping Women: April 1997 22

The Diagnosis: February 13, 1998 25

Unique and Special: February 1998 28

Moving Grandma West: March 1998 30

Have You Thought About Coming Home?: July 1998 36

One Thing and Another: August 1998 41

The House Where I Grew Up: September 1998 44

Opening the Museum: September 1998 47

On My Way to Work: September 1998 52

David's First Visit: September 1998 55

Fireworks: September 1998 61

A Lot of Obstacles: October 1998 67

Grandma Moves Again: October 1998 73

Drownproofing: October 1998 79

We Settle into a Routine: November 1998 85

The Bird House: January 1999 89

The Tattoo Project: February 1999 93

The Escape Artists: March 1999 96

Dad's Birthday: April 1999 99

Out with the Folks: May 1999 103

Bad Dreams and Brushfires: May 1999 126

A Hell of a Time: May 1999 130

Rock Runs: August 1999 133

Homecoming: September 1999 136

Pedal to the Metal Back to Los Angeles; October 1999 139

Christmas 1999 143

A New Year: January 2000 146

Home in Los Angeles: March 2000 151

Dad's Walkabout: June 2000 154

A Short Lead: June 2000 157

A Very Romantic Table: September 2000 161

Wedding Dresses and Funeral Parlors: October 2000 164

Grandma Returns to Aberdeen: October 2000 168

The Wedding: June 2001 172

The Drill: July 2001 176

Breathing Room: September 2001 188

Good Company: February 2002 194

Such a Good, Good Man: July 2002 196

Roscoe: November 6, 2002 204

Getting Home: November 13, 2002 210

We've Got You Covered: November 2002 212

Good to Know You: November 2002 215

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Leaving Tinkertown 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alheizmer's Disease robs a family in many ways. This writer tells her first-hand experiences as a caregiver and daughter to the man who was her father. At times, the story is gut-wrenching, and always sad.
MarthaStettinius More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, and devastating in its detail, “Leaving Tinkertown” is both a first-rate father-daughter love story and a testament to the particular heartbreak that is early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The author’s father, Ross, is an eccentric but gentle and nurturing man who made his living in the West as a painter for carnivals. Over the years Ross built a 22-room museum of miniature wooden scenes and figurines—Tinkertown—by adding rooms one by one to their farmhouse in New Mexico, building the walls from glass bottles and cement. The author, Tanya, grows up sharing her home with visitors from across the country. When her father is diagnosed at age 58 with Alzheimer’s disease, Tanya is barely scraping by in her late 20s in Los Angeles, but doesn’t hesitate to come home, leaving her sweetheart behind, to help out her father, who grows increasingly testy and stubborn, and her high-octane but emotionally-removed step-mother. In “Leaving Tinkertown” Tanya artfully weaves scenes from her childhood with those from the present, showing us how she continues to adore her father but struggles with the fears we so often have as caregivers—that she’ll forget who she is and what she wants for herself, or be overcome by sadness. She is angry that with his dementia her father “is leaving,” and angry that she is “being left.” Over time, Tanya learns not only how to find her place as an adult in this strange and unpredictable household, overcoming attacks of anxiety and self doubt, but how to find her strength as a daughter and caregiver. As a reader, I came to feel a great fondness for both her and her father, so it was difficult to witness his rapid descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s. As the daughter of a woman who suffered from dementia for over 10 years, but declined more slowly than Ross and passed away at 80, not in middle-age, I felt immense sorrow for Tanya that she lost her father so young. Fortunately, her story is beautifully wrought; with exquisite detail, honesty and humor, Tanya guides us gently from moment to moment, in much the same way she learns to guide her father through the movements of his day. I highly recommend this book for any reader, not just those who have a loved one with dementia. Ross, Tanya, and the special place that is Tinkertown will stay with you long after you finish the last page. --author, "Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter's Memoir"
-jodi27 More than 1 year ago
Having visited the museum in about 1990 or so, and having seen nothing like Tinkertown since, I was thrilled to learn about the creator and family. What a family and what a story. Thank you Tanya, for the writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago