Imagine yourself lying sick, broken, weak and powerless. Who cares for you when money won’t fix it, sex is not possible and good looks are useless or gone? Who sits faithfully by your side?
This is one of the defining questions we ask in our book Loving In the Grown Zone: A No-Nonsense Guide to Healthy Decisions in the Quest for Loving, Romantic Relationships of Honor, Esteem and Respect, in order to help people to differentiate between authentic, healthy, resilient love, and fleeting infatuation, sexual attraction and other things that may accompany love, but are not love itself. Our point: Having a mate who can afford to provide the lifestyle of your dreams, satisfy your desire for material things or fulfill you erotic fantasies is of little to no value when facing the true meaning of loving “in sickness or in health… till death do us part.” This is why we so strongly advise that you not be impressed by the desire to lay with you, or the willingness to pay for you, but the commitment to stand with you.
For a powerful, real and moving example of this kind of commitment, read Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s by B. Smith and Dan Gasby, with Michael Shnayerson. The couple’s impassioned call to action against the scourge of Alzheimer’s is also a sterling example of resilient, Grown love in the face of adversity and insurmountable odds.
Before I Forget follows the journey of Barbara “B.” Smith’s battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s (the type that afflicts those younger than 65), while chronicling its impact on business, family and their love and marriage. Smith is internationally known as one of the first black high-fashion models, and later, the star of a cooking and lifestyle empire, including three namesake restaurants, a magazine, a nationally syndicated television show, books and bedding and other licensed products sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond outlets. Gasby, a media sales and television producer, has been the driving force behind the B. Smith brand, fiercely and loyally managing the business and negotiating the deals that made her a household name. Together, the married couple of more than 22 years (a second marriage for both) were all but unstoppable partners in business, love and life—until Smith became one of the more than 5 million Americans ambushed by Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is precious little in the way of treatment and no cure.
Before I Forget is written as both a wake-up call and resource guide for the fight against Alzheimer’s, which, despite being the third largest cause of death for Americans, receives only a fraction of the federal research funding devoted to battling ailments such as cancer, heart disease and AIDS. Unlike those other diseases, which are both manageable and survivable, Alzheimer is neither. Researchers, caregivers and others engaged in the battle against the disease predict a point of no return by 2020, at which time the costs and devastation of Alzheimer’s will overwhelm our capacity to deal with it, unless more money is committed to research and the development of drugs to manage the disease.
However, Before I Forget has been added to the Grown Zone Book Shelf for another reason: The story of Dan and B. is an unflinchingly honest, often painful, but ultimately inspiring example of what real Grown love is. The book vividly illustrates the sustainer characteristics—respect, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, fidelity and safety—that are absolutely necessary in order to establish and sustain healthy, loving relationships of honor, esteem and respect. When a person is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, his or her demand for these sustainers increases exponentially, as the disease progresses from agitation and loss of memory to anxiety and the inability to complete basic tasks, to the eventual loss of the ability to speak and fine motor skills. Gasby is clearly Smith’s hero, steadfast and loyal despite changes in their sex life, the toll taken on their businesses, and the anger, resentment and burnout that are ever-present dangers for caregivers.
For an inspiring role model for how a Grown man loves, look no further than Dan Gasby’s love of B.Smith. However, it’s important to point out that Gasby and Smith had already established a relationship defined by healthy sustainer characteristics long before being confronted by the scourge of Alzheimer’s. His care and treatment of Smith was typical of their relationship, not a crisis response. Ultimately, Gasby is the person he’s always chosen to be with Smith, long before he was unexpectedly challenged with the role of caregiver. This is why we stress the importance of knowing who a person is before putting your body, money, home and/or heart at risk.
This book is but one chapter, but perhaps the most important one, in a love story for the ages. If you’re looking to set some real relationship goals, read Before I Forget to learn what you should be looking for—and what you need to be prepared to commit.
Stop chasing and losing. Start ATTRACTING and CHOOSING! Learn proven guidelines and principles GUARANTEED to make you happy and fulfilled REGARDLESS OF YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIP STATUS. Use the power of self love to become an irresistible MAGNET for the lasting, drama-free, AUTHENTIC LOVE created specifically for you and ONLY you! Order your copy of Loving In The Grown Zone TODAY at LovingInTheGrownZone.com!