Also by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle
Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows
Starred review, September 2010 issue
Reviewed by June Sawyers
In this heartfelt and ultimately heartbreaking book, Hoblitzelle, a writer and teacher, describes the loss of her beloved husband, a former professor of comparative literature known endearingly by his nickname Hob, who was diagnosed at the age of 72 with Alzheimer’s. We watch helplessly as Hob battles the disease with grace, nobility, and good humor, even when he struggles for words and then loses his ability to speak altogether. Hoblitzelle describes with great humanity the early symptoms and the initial shock after first learning of the diagnosis. She discusses her various coping mechanisms, the many forms that caretaking can assume, and how the teachings of Buddhism and the reciting of poetry helped them navigate through the darkest moments. Hoblitzelle offers very useful – and cathartic – self-help sections at the end of each chapter that include reflections, suggestions, and prayers. This is not an easy book to read, but it is an important one. As the author notes, “Our story is everyone’s story.” Wise, inspiring, and compassionate, it is for anyone-whether patient, caregiver, or family member – who is facing a life-changing diagnosis.
September 15, 2010
Both Hoblitzelle and her husband of nearly 40 years, Hob, practiced the Buddhist methods of acceptance and letting go to graceful effect in dealing with Hob' s symptoms of Alzheimer' s. In this thoughtful narrative, Hoblitzelle explains that at age 72, Hob, a former English professor, was diagnosed with the disease, having experienced odd moments of disconnect and forgetfulness; his condition gradually declined until his death six years later. The author, 14 years his junior, records her compassionate side-by-side journey with her husband, mindful of their remaining time together and resolved to face the disease and its challenges rather than deny it. As a man of words, Hob grew deeply distressed by his aphasia, and the author details the stages of Hob' s debilitation--which he accepted with humor and lightness--mostly in terms of his painful lapse into the inarticulable. Hoblitzelle frankly expresses the growing sense of disconnection between them and the burdens of caretaking, and at the end of each chapter offers helpful suggestions for those dealing with the disease.
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Library Journal Reviews
November 15, 2010
Fran Mentch, Cleveland State Univ. Library
We have all become too familiar with Alzheimer’s disease, but the case of the author’s husband, Hob, seems especially tragic. A comparative literature professor, therapist, and Buddhist teacher, he took his greatest pleasure in the life of the mind. And his spirituality and self-reflection made him acutely aware of every step of his decline into dementia. When much of his speech was gone, he still had the ability to recite poetry to explain his loss and confusion–the book’s most heartbreaking moments. Hoblitzelle, a writer and teacher, gives him a voice and interprets their experience as a couple as she tells this story of illness and loss. Fashioning this into a self-help book, she explains how they relied on Buddhism, family, and friends to manage. VERDICT This articulate story is an essential read for anyone in this situation.
The extraordinary qualities of the writer, of her husband and of their lives together are stamped throughout the book, from the jacket liner to the back cover. This entices the reader; gives a sense of wonder and awe to the experience of the close connection with their lives, their struggles and their needs, each of them, to come to so ordinary a thing as death. It is a strength of the book; two sparkling, talented people who lives have soared above us in a glorious flight of remarkable accomplishments, experiences, encounters, facing together an ignoble debilitating illness and the commonness of death. Read more...
Science of Mind
Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows is a beautiful, heartwarming, and--at times--painful book to read. The story of Harrison Hoblitzelle's slow but ineveitable mental decline because of Alzheimer's is told with both grace and candor by his wife who found herself, as do many spouses, in the challenging role of caretaker. Read the full article ...
Mind Matters, Alzheimer’s Association MA/NH Chapter
November 3, 2010
Amidst the sorrows, the Alzheimer’s journey can also bring life-fortifying gifts, if we but only open ourselves to see them. Olivia Hoblitzelle’s beautifully written book, “Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows,” a poetic blend of Zen philosophy, humanistic psychology and Oprah pragmatism, gives the reader a key that can, with practice, open one’s mind’s eye to reveal the gifts along with the sorrows.
Most first person accounts of living with Alzheimer’s are so couple-centric as not be practically useful to others. This book is different though. Read the full article ...
Facing Catastrophe with Grace and Wisdom, The Internet Review of Books
October 17, 2010
by Bill Williams
About five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, the deadly disease that slowly wipes out the mind. As Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle says in this poignant memoir, “It is daunting, tedious, exhausting, financially draining, and heartbreaking: the full catastrophe.” Read the full article ...
Reviews of the First Edition
The following reviews were written for the first edition of Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s, formerly titled The Majesty of Your Loving and self-published in 2008.
EzineArticles.com Review, Fall 2009 by Dr Jacqui Dodds PhD
"Listen" April 2008 and "Presence Journal" April 2008 by Margaret Bullitt-Jonas (PDF)
Quest, Spring 2009 (PDF)
Tricycle Magazine, Fall 2008 (excerpt, PDF)