During the last few years there has been an explosion of books on Alzheimer's disease. Some are "how-to" books with specific advice on coping with the many difficulties of the disease. Many are medical in nature and some are personal stories. Most are emotionally touching in that this disease is a family disease that changes the lives of each person interacting with the individual diagnosed with AD.
While most of these books have value, few in my opinion deliver the message of love, devotion and devastation as powerfully as "I Still Do: Loving and Living With Alzheimer's," by Judith Fox.
Artist and entrepreneur Judith Fox married Dr. Edmund Ackell, a surgeon. Three years later, Ackell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Fox's artist's nature led her to photograph, as well as write, about the experience she and Ackell were sharing as they travel together the path of Alzheimer's disease.
Fox's prose/poetry is moving. While the photography, which Fox herself recognizes as revealing her husband's soul, is what makes this gorgeous book stand out as a piece of art, her words shimmer on pages next to the intimate images of her husband, jewels by themselves.
"Once Ed and I started living with Alzheimer's,
we began a trip down a never-ending staircase.
Here and there we've found a platform
and rested for a while.
Then there was another step down,
Right now Ed and I are tumbling feet-over head.
No platforms in sight.
Each photograph hold's the viewer suspended in a state of wonder. It's all there. Pain, frustration, devastation and yes, humor. As I read and view the photos, I feel like an interloper, infringing on the privacy of this loving couple, yet honored to be invited into their world. Should I have knocked?
The quality of this hard bound book is made for gift giving. To have published this work of art in any form other than as a hard bound book with pristine, glossy white pages surrounding powerful images worthy of the finest gallery, would have been sad, indeed.
"I Still Do" honors the marriage of a brave couple willing to show the ravages of Alzheimer's disease in a moving art form few would have considered. The book will bring tears to most, but it will also bring healing, for in these images, and in the text, we see a couple making the best of what life has thrown at them. Rather than sinking into the unfairness of their ordeal, they have risen above it to bring the understanding of Alzheimer's disease forward in a unique way.
"I Still Do," published by PowerHouse Books, is available in book stores and online.
Published On: November 09, 2009