An Iceberg in Paradise

A Passage through Alzheimer's

By Nancy Avery Dafoe

Subjects: Memoir
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438455440, 190 pages, April 2015

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Ralph Hesse
A Note on the Title
Introduction: After the Fall
1. Uncertainty
2. Why Now? Why My Family?
3. Secrets
4. Mistaken Identities
5. Early Signs and Symptoms
6. You Look Like Your Mother
7. There’s a Tornado in My Head
8. Helping the Doctor
9. Icebergs in Paradise
10. Managing at Home
11. What Would She Have Chosen?
12. Did You See The Notebook?
13. What Not to Say
14. Managing in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility
15. Collecting Memories
16. Her Legacy
17. Shadows
Appendix A: Turning to the Web
Appendix B: Texts on the Subject
Index of Poems
About the Author

Offers a healing and insightful examination of the issues involved in Alzheimer’s for family and caregivers.


In this evocative memoir, Nancy Avery Dafoe shares the heart-wrenching experience of caring for her ailing mother as she struggled, and ultimately lost her battle, with Alzheimer's disease. Weaving poetry throughout, Dafoe tells her family's story in the hope of helping those who are navigating the murky waters of Alzheimer's. She presents different approaches and practical advice for dealing with the difficult life transition that occurs when parents become ill. At its center, An Iceberg in Paradise is not only a tribute to love in the face of loss but also an exploration of memory, our human connections, and holding on until there is nothing left to hold.

Nancy Avery Dafoe is a writer and English educator. She is the author of Breaking Open the Box: A Guide for Creative Techniques to Improve Academic Writing and Generate Critical Thinking and Writing Creatively: A Guided Journal to Using Literary Devices. She lives in Homer, New York.


"Beautifully written, An Iceberg in Paradise expresses Nancy Avery Dafoe's very personal experience as a family member observing the slow yet relentless failing of her beloved mother. I loved Dafoe's honest way of writing about the pain, confusion, anger, frustration, and sorrow of her journey with her mother and her mother's 'passage. ' This is a personal, very human memoir that anyone dealing with Alzheimer's in a parent or spouse would find helpful and supportive. " — Alison Jacob, LCSW

"I found this book particularly touching on many levels. As we baby boomers age and our parents are living longer in general, we all need information and to hear others' stories of their experiences with this as it could well affect many of us on a very personal level. " — Mark Marshall, LCSW