Questions for Reflection or Discussion

from the book The Girl, the Star and the Spider as revised 9/15/2010

Alzheimer's Disease Process

1. For many, Alzheimer's Disease can be confusing, often frustrating, and difficult to understand. List questions you have about what happens with this disease.

2. The disease does not progress uniformly but may leave some moments or areas in life apparently disease-free. What has this created for you and what has your response been?

3. How does the gradual onset and slow subsequent decline affect your ability to accept or adjust to its effects in your life or your loved one's life, both in positive and negative ways?

4. How does losing short term memories differ from losing long-term or deep, treasured memories?

5. The spider is scary. Have you experienced fear concerning the disease? How intense is your fear? What aspects of the disease are the scariest to you?


1. With today's longer life spans we are often challenged to live with a number of chronic illnesses; we average three by the age of 65. How do we prepare ourselves? Our loved ones? What costs accompany longevity? What opportunities?

2. The girl in the story had a difficult childhood and old age but an apparently charmed adulthood. What has been the path in your loved one's life? In your own life? What joys, struggles or pain did each of you face? What memories do you treasure most? Is it possible to celebrate both the pains and the joys?

3. The girl was evidently much loved. How is our love for others and theirs for us affected, both positively and negatively, when memories of love disappear?

4. In the end, the old woman is once more pictured as a young girl. Does this correlate with the role reversal of a child caring for an ill parent? Other than the need for care, how might one be a child at any age?


1. In the story, the spider's web is the price for having had a long and good life. What meaning would you assign to the disease? Is it a cost of prior blessings, a punishment, a random event? How does the meaning you assign the disease affect your feelings about it?

2. One thread, then a tangle of threads across the page represent the progress of the disease. What images would you use to describe the disease?

3. Does the girl cross gender and cultural lines? How is this story about Alzheimer's Disease like your own story? How might your experience be of value to others?

4. The girl asked a star for help when she was troubled. Where do you turn for help or hope? Do you see hope in this story?