Alzheimer's Daughter

The Story

Alzheimer’s Daughter introduces the reader to my healthy parents, Ed and Ibby, years before their diagnosis, then recounts painful details as our roles reversed and I became my parents’ parent.

Their disease started as translucent, confused thoughts and ended in a locked memory care unit after a near decade of descent into the opaque world of Alzheimer's.

I began writing Alzheimer’s Daughter one week after my mother's death––when I was stunned, realizing Dad had no memory of her or their 66-year marriage.

I write to pay tribute to the undying spirit at Ed and Ibby's core, and with the hope that the story of their parallel decline might be helpful to others.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review of SO, WHAT IS LOVE? by Ann B. Keller

Ann B. Keller pays tribute to her husband's parents, George and Patricia Keller, by writing the forward to, So, What Is Love? 
Ann’s mother-in-law, Patricia, wrote this memoir when she was in her eighties, caring for her husband George while he declined with Alzheimer’s disease for twelve years before his death. Patricia died four years later.
Patricia's writing is mushy, sugary, tender, eloquent, and vividly detailed. She briefly takes us back to her post World War II courtship with George, then through the years they raised a family, continuing through their retirement when they renovated an old Victorian home in Wellington, Ohio. The bulk of the text describes George's battle with Alzheimer’s, and how Patricia struggled to care for him.
At times the reader will wince with pain as George, at two hundred pounds, no longer recognizes Patty, a mere one hundred pounds. Thinking she’s an intruder into their home, he attacks her, and she has to call the police to subdue her own husband. You’ll gasp and be repulsed when George tries to wash his face in a public urinal. You’ll chuckle while shaking your head and moaning with sadness when Patty struggles to change George's soiled diaper in a men's restroom, while other men listening think there’s hanky-panky going on in the locked stall.
This book gives an honest picture of the difficult life and immense love of a spouse-caretaker. I read the memoir in two days. Once I started, it was impossible to put down.
As I read, I thought, what's so gripping about this book? I concluded, perhaps I was captivated because someone who lived in Wellington, Ohio was the author. I could visualize the house, the town, and the people. But in the months to follow, I’ve read over a dozen other memoirs written by loved ones of people afflicted by Alzheimer’s, and So, What Is Love? continues to stand out. I’m in awe of the clarity with which Patricia Keller, an elderly woman, poured her heart out on the page. Her flowery language leaves no doubt she deeply loved her husband, but she does not hold back on gruesome details of his disease and behavior. This much honesty had to be excruciating to reveal, making the book riveting. 
If one can appreciate the sugary language as representative of the era, Patricia’s truthful clarity makes this book impossible to forget. 

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