When she became a volunteer for Older Corps, an organization in Los Angeles that arranges visits for the elderly in nursing homes, Komaiko, a 44-year-old children's book author (Annie Bananie, etc.), was motivated by a desire to overcome her pervasive fear of aging. She was assigned to visit Adele, a 93-year-old blind resident who was alert and in relatively good health, but who spent most of her days lonely and longing for conversation. Over the course of about a year, their visits increased from once to several times a week as the friendship between the two women deepened. Komaiko is best at bringing to life Adele's independent mind and her determination to wrest as much life as possible out of her remaining days, as well as at pinpointing the aspects of nursing home life that worked against Adele's fighting spirit. She recounts how Adele was confined to her room without company for weeks because she was diagnosed with scabies and the nursing home physician was on vacation in Palm Springs. Unfortunately, Komaiko devotes too much of this memoir to unconvincing ruminations on her own personal life and how contact with Adele changed her for the better. The saccharine final anecdote, in which Adele meets Komaiko's family and her new boyfriend at a party at her home, is perhaps more appropriate to children's literature. Though everyone, apparently, lives happily ever after, this is not often the case in nursing homes according to the author's own account. Agent, Patti Breitman. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999 Release date: 10/01/1999 Genre: Nonfiction
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