From Publishers Weekly
Both Hoblitzelle and her husband of nearly 40 years, Hob, practiced the Buddhist methods of acceptance and letting go to graceful effect in dealing with Hob' s symptoms of Alzheimer' s. In this thoughtful narrative, Hoblitzelle explains that at age 72, Hob, a former English professor, was diagnosed with the disease, having experienced odd moments of disconnect and forgetfulness; his condition gradually declined until his death six years later. The author, 14 years his junior, records her compassionate side-by-side journey with her husband, mindful of their remaining time together and resolved to face the disease and its challenges rather than deny it. As a man of words, Hob grew deeply distressed by his aphasia, and the author details the stages of Hob' s debilitation--which he accepted with humor and lightness--mostly in terms of his painful lapse into the inarticulable. Much of the barrage of wisdom she sought from Tibetan elders sounds blithe and pat out of context, but Hoblitzelle frankly expresses the growing sense of disconnection between them and the burdens of caretaking, and at the end of each chapter offers helpful suggestions for those dealing with the disease.
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*Starred Review* In this heartfelt and ultimately heartbreaking book, Hoblitzelle, a writer and teacher, describes the loss of her beloved husband, a former professor of comparative literature known endearingly by his nickname Hob, who was diagnosed at the age of 72 with Alzheimer’s. We watch helplessly as Hob battles the disease with grace, nobility, and good humor, even when he struggles for words and then loses the ability to speak altogether. Hoblitzelle describes with great humanity the early symptoms and the initial shock after first learning of the diagnosis. She discusses her various coping mechanisms, the many forms that caretaking can assume, and how the teachings of Buddhism and the reciting of poetry helped them navigate through the darkest moments. Hoblitzelle offers very useful—and cathartic—self-help sections at the end of each chapter that include reflections, suggestions, and prayers. This is not an easy book to read, but it is an important one. As the author notes, “Our story is everyone’s story.” Wise, inspiring, and compassionate, it is for anyone—whether patient, caregiver, or family member—who is facing a life-changing diagnosis. --June Sawyers