Kismet: From the Joy of Romance to the Agony of Alzheimer's
Elizabeth Gibbons Van Ingen
Daniel & Daniel, 2013 (2013)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
iz Gibbons, a young, naïve Californian, traveled to Iran in 1959 to visit her father. While there, she met and married Tony Van Ingen, a handsome Dutch-American. Together they started a life abroad for various spans of time: Iran, Morocco, South Africa, Beirut, the Arabian Peninsula, as well as China. Tony was a traveling executive for Firestone Tires.
inally, in 1974, their exotic life ended and they moved, with their two daughters, to Muscatine, Iowa. That's when Liz noted that Tony's personality was changing. She had to face what would be a tragic end for a man who had been charismatic. He had Alzheimer's. Her book then changes course while she relates how Tony became someone she really didn't know. His rages. His despair when he realized that he was not the man he used to be.
iz wanted to remember her husband in those good years, the 60s and the 70s. It did become a shock to realize that all the things that she depended on him for were now hers to solve. Ten years of being a caring though reluctant caregiver took its toll on her as well as on him.
he initial chapters of Liz Van Ingen's
are a delight to read. She portrays their nomadic life as an adventure – not all sweetness and light of course, but exciting and unusual. The complete turnaround when the family moved back to the States must have been a terrible awakening. Her memories of those last ten years caring for her husband aren't ones she wants to dwell on. She must prefer to go farther back in time and open her memory banks on better days.
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