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“Please don’t let me strangle my mother,” I plead silently as I try for the umpteenth time to coax her hand into the sleeve of her sweater.  She is sitting on the edge of her bed holding her arm stiffly against her body, refusing to unbend her elbow. It is still dark outside.

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At any given time in the United States 65 million caregivers partner with their care receivers in a transformative choreography of love and letting go.  While most would call the dance arduous, I think few would call it joyless.  Daily transcendence of self in the name of love ultimately is liberating, although it is difficult to believe that when your elderly loved one is smearing lipstick on the lamp shades. 

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 “Today I threw the Christians to the lions but I got away just in time,” my mother announces as I pull into the parking lot at Applebee’s.  Later I learn that she watched “Ben Hur” at adult daycare but today I don’t know that.   I respond carefully, focusing on her lifelong appetite for grilled salmon.

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