Sag Harbor residents and vaunted members of the restaurant and business communities, B. Smith and husband Dan Gasby released their new book, Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s (Harmony, 2016), today, Tuesday, January 19. The book tells the story of Smith and Gasby’s struggle with Smith’s Alzheimer’s disease through the lens of the couple’s loving relationship, which has endured through good times and hard times, especially since her diagnosis in 2013.
Smith, who was a model, restaurateur, celebrity chef, syndicated television host, magazine publisher and lifestyle guru, has had to let much of her empire go in the years since 2013 but she remains a prominent figure—now as a voice for the 5 million people who suffer with Alzheimer’s and the many newly diagnosed (a person develops the disease every 67 seconds, according to alz.org). Her partner for life, Gasby, has also become an outspoken caretaker who shares his experiences caring for Smith on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, and now in Before I Forget.
A January 4, 2016 Facebook post from Gasby, is a prime example of the couple’s candor about the disease and their experiences with it. It reads, “As I lay next to my wife tonight her words haunt me. ‘I feel like I’m falling through a hole.’ As a caregiver I know how to change the subject and we move beyond this one particular thought. But the reality is we both are falling victims and its my job to stop the fall. Only caregivers those in THE CLUB! Understand and honestly can say the truth is the truth and never ever lie to yourself.”
In a quote from the book, Smith says, “I know where I’m going. I’m still myself. I just can’t remember things as well as I once did. So on short trips, I work hard not to be confused. I’ll say to myself, What are we going to do? How long are we staying? It’s like I’m talking to my other self—the self I used to be. She tells me, This is what we need to buy—not that. I’m conscious of that other self guiding me now.”
Written with the help of fellow Hamptonite and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson, the book is presented in short chapters that interweave the narrative with practical and helpful advice, while illuminating the day-to-day challenges of Alzheimer’s for readers. Before I Forget reveals “the family realities and tensions, ways of coping, coming research that may tip the scale, as well as lessons learned along the way,” the publisher explains.
The book paints an honest and powerful picture of Alzheimer’s disease, but, more than that, at its heart, this is an inspiring love story full of life and hope. (Scroll down for a video about the book.)
You can buy Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s now at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com.