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 Political memoir about former Canadian minister with LBD 
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Post Political memoir about former Canadian minister with LBD
A book by the widow of Canadian minister Bud Cullen was recently published. He had LBD.

The book reviewer states: "In essence, this book is a long love letter from a widow to her late husband. It's an uncritical look at the man who served from 1968 to1984... A book that is predominantly syrupy hagiography suddenly becomes compelling reading as Chénier-Cullen describes her aging husband's battle with Lewy Body disease... The man known for his irreverence, compassion and energy lost touch with reality, suffered hallucinations, developed various physical disabilities and would wander the dining room of Colonel By seniors residence in the Glebe shaking hands with his fellow residents as if campaigning for votes. ... It is difficult not to weep reading Chénier-Cullen's account of her husband's last days and the pain and confusion she suffered in coping with his cruel illness. ... Those coping with the dementia of a spouse or relative should read this book. At the least, they will find they are not alone."

Here's the short book review in today's "Ottawa Citizen" newspaper.


http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Bio ... story.html

Biography as love letter
Liberal minister Bud Cullen's widow pens political memoir
By Paul Gessell, The Ottawa Citizen
February 7, 2010

I Found My Thrill on Parliament Hill
By Nicole Chénier-Cullen
iUniverse, $27.39

As Parliament Hill scandals go, this was a minor one, back in the 1970s. Popular Liberal cabinet minister Jack "Bud" Cullen was having a not-so-secret affair with his much younger chief of staff, Nicole Chénier. Both were married to other people.

There were some raised eyebrows. But there were far juicier liaisons afoot. Remember: This was the era in which Margaret Trudeau supposedly fled 24 Sussex to romp with the Rolling Stones. Trudeau minister Francis Fox resigned from cabinet after confessing he signed another man's name to a document so a married ladyfriend could obtain an abortion. It was hard to compete with those headline grabbers.

The Cullen "scandal," if one can use that word, was destined to be forgotten by all but those most intimately involved. But the woman who married the boss and became Nicole Chénier-Cullen, a high-flying bureaucrat in her own right, has revived memories of the affair with her newly published book I Found My Thrill on Parliament Hill.

The affair looks downright harmless today, although the book provides no information about the two spouses Nicole and Bud left behind during the beginnings of their Parliament Hill romance. Those jilted spouses, and their children, might have a different take on these events.

In essence, this book is a long love letter from a widow to her late husband. It's an uncritical look at the man who served from 1968 to1984, except for a few months in 1979-'80, as MP for the Ontario riding of Sarnia-Lambton. Part of that time was spent in Trudeau's cabinet, most notably as Employment and Immigration minister. Then, from 1984 until 2000, Cullen sat as a Federal Court of Canada judge. He resigned because of deteriorating health and died in 2005 at age 78.

A book that is predominantly syrupy hagiography suddenly becomes compelling reading as Chénier-Cullen describes her aging husband's battle with Lewy Body disease, a type of dementia that is like a cross between Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

The man known for his irreverence, compassion and energy lost touch with reality, suffered hallucinations, developed various physical disabilities and would wander the dining room of Colonel By seniors residence in the Glebe shaking hands with his fellow residents as if campaigning for votes.

"His imagined constituents were always happy to oblige and the odd one even promised to vote for him," Chenier-Cullen writes.

At one point a doctor asked Cullen what he would like done for him.

"I would like to have my dignity back," the former politician replied quietly.

It is difficult not to weep reading Chénier-Cullen's account of her husband's last days and the pain and confusion she suffered in coping with his cruel illness. I personally knew and respected Cullen during his heyday on Parliament Hill and was shocked to the core to read about his sad end.

Those coping with the dementia of a spouse or relative should read this book. At the least, they will find they are not alone. The dilemmas they face were also experienced by the very loving wife of a once powerful, populist cabinet minister.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:10 pm
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