It all happened in the same week. Leslie Davidson’s children’s book, In the Red Canoe, was released to bookstores and, simultaneously, Davidson found out she was the winner of a CBC Books contest in the non-fiction category.
“There were two things that happened, which has been confusing for people,” she said. “I was in Portland, Oregon, going to a world Parkinson’s congress, which is a big convention for people with Parkinson’s and all of the people who work with them, when the CBC announcement came.”
That announcement had to do with a contest Davidson had entered through CBC Books. In February, Davidson entered in the creative non-fiction category. She wrote a short, 1,500-word piece, submitted it, and then forgot all about it.
“Really, I did it so someone would read it. I knew it was juried, so someone would have to read what I wrote. It ended up surprisingly being on the long list, and then the short list, and then winning,” said Davidson, who, along with her husband, relocated to Revelstoke in 2013 to be closer to their children who live here.
Titled Adaptation, the piece tells the story of Davidson and her husband, Lincoln Ford, as they journey through the reality of learning to live with their respective illnesses. In 2011, both Davidson and Ford were diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases: Davidson with Parkinson’s disease, and Ford with Louis Body dementia.
“The story is about when we were still living in Grand Forks and I was trying to keep life as it was before diagnosis. And he was struggling very much with cognitive function. We were big hikers. We were off on a hike, more of a long walk one morning and he presented with a symptom that I thought we had managed, which was recognizing me, but believing I was an imposter,” said Davidson.
At that point, said Davidson, her husband wanted nothing to do with her. To make matters even scarier, they were a mile from home. The couple had already walked a long ways and Ford, in his confusion, wanted to walk up river, which was away from the direction of their home. On top of all of this, Davidson had not brought her cell phone with her.
Intertwined with the main story, is the story about the first time Ford’s Louis Body symptoms caused him to view Davidson as an imposter while at a movie theatre.
“Adaptation is just about this journey and getting used to big changes in our lives. Trying to be proactive and finding out I was always being reactive,” said Davidson. “Finding out the disease was always one step ahead of me, his disease in particular; no matter how hard I was trying to get things in to place that would be helpful for him.”
While Adaptation is a deeply personal story, In the Red Canoe is a children’s book. “It’s just a day in the life of a child and her grandfather in his red canoe,” she said. “It’s just the things they see. It’s about being quiet in nature and open and observant, and all of the incredible things you might change upon.”
Davidson will be at the Revelstoke Library on Thursday, October 27, at 7 p.m., to present her book, In the Red Canoe.