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An Iceberg in Paradise

An Iceberg in Paradise excerpt:

What I know is the struggle within our family and the tension between my parents resulting from this affliction—to say nothing of the desperate battle going on inside my mother’s head—was so secret and tortured that it is only after I’ve had seasons to reflect on and revisit incidents, re-storied how I acted, spoke, and appraised situations during my mother’s protracted battle with Alzheimer’s that I wish I could have helped more, proceeded in another manner, reacted better in some way. I know that the toll taken on our family was monumental.

Looking back with recall intact, I am also aware of the fact that members of my family will have experienced or remembered contrasting versions of the same events because our perceptions are—to varying degrees—subjective. Memory, in all of us, is an imperfect arbiter, but it is also our most powerful connection to each other and identity. Who would any of us be without our memories? And this insidious disease takes that which is most precious.

Looking back, I am equally certain that my father’s devotion to my mother was absolute, that his unequivocal love and loyalty to her was emotionally costly and excruciating for him, and that we all could have handled my mother’s Alzheimer’s better—perhaps helped her more, helped each other more—if only we had better understood and accepted this silent, cruel intruder in their house.

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