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The Last Ten Days: Academia, Dementia, and the Choice to Die is a heartrending memoir of love, scholarship, dignity, courage, and the choices one is forced to make when given the devastating diagnosis of a terminal illness.
Spanning sixty years, this extraordinary book recounts the love story of Martha Risberg Brosio and her husband, Richard Brosio, Ph.D., a brilliant scholar and college professor whose communication skills dazzled all with whom he came in contact. Teenage sweethearts who went their separate ways after high school, Martha and Richard reconnected twenty-six years later over a friendly dinner that sparked into passionate love. They married in 1983, enjoying a vibrant life.
Then tragedy struck. In late 2013, Richard was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a type of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The disease impacted Richard’s ability to communicate. Eventually, he would lose his verbal and processing skills. There was no cure. Determined to have a dignified death at the time and in the manner of his own choosing, Richard hastened his death two years after his diagnosis by voluntarily stopping eating and drinking, seeking only palliative and hospice care until the end.
Reminiscent of Still Alice, The Notebook, Tuesdays with Morrie, and When Breath Becomes Air, The Last Ten Days grabs the heartstrings and gives a mighty tug.
Prologue: In What Spirit Do You Come?
A powerful story. This book is three stories combined into one book. Using flashbacks, it celebrates the intellect of a liberal educator. Richard Brosio's quest to fully educate students and future teachers of students is explained. The reader gains valuable insights to his philosophy, his ethnic background and his passion for a true democratic society. Secondly, the book is a poignant love story as told by his wife, Martha. Thirdly, this is a book about a horrid disease that robs a person of his intellect, identity and personality. Like Alzheimer's Disease, it is a thief that causes havoc to the person who has it and everyone who loves him. Making the choice to end his life before he loses the ability to consciously make that choice, is a phenomenal struggle. How the last ten days of his life pass is told by his wife in present time as she tries to be a pillar of strength and yet deal with the greatest loss of her life. During the final days of her husband's life, she has comforting flashbacks of the first time they met and so many facets of their life together. I enjoyed the snippets of humor, cherished the love story, and had tears in my eyes toward the end. Yet, as I too grasped the finality of death, I felt a sense of peace that suffering had ended and Richard left this world with dignity as he wanted to do. This is a must read because we all have or will have experienced someone dear to us who has a fatal illness or an illness that causes dementia.A.J. Reed, Customer review on Amazon
I first met Richard Brosio when we were graduate students at The University of Michigan in the late 1960s, and we collaborated over the next four decades around our mutual commitment to the crucial role of the social foundations of education in teacher preparation and to advocate for educational equity, justice for all, and true democracy as an antidote to capitalist hegemony. Richard brought to these efforts great intellectual prowess, focused energy, political insight, and personal courage. These same qualities are central to this powerful book by his wife Martha in which she describes Richard’s end-of-life choices in the face of illness that robbed him of his skillful powers of communication. The book also highlights his teaching and writing and their life together. It is a monumental love story. It is sad, yet inspirational. It is also joyful, as it celebrates his life and their time together. It causes me to admire both Richard and Martha all the more.Alan H. Jones, Ph.D., Publisher, Caddo Gap Press
It's a very engaging book that pulls you in. It's a love story, as well as a story about someone having to make horrific decisions. It's very humanistic and accesible to many readers.Georgette Carignan