This summer we were given a very special movie, Away From Her, a heart breaking story about a family’s struggles with the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. The film portrayed the ravages of the affliction with clear-eyed honesty, tracking not only the effects on the victim, played by Julie Christie, but also on the caretakers who provide support even as she faded away right before their eyes.

So when I read the USA Today news article A New Page in O’Connors’ Love Story about how Alzheimer’s has changed the life of John O’Connor and that of his wife, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, I couldn’t help but think about how life imitates fiction. In the film, as in the real life of John O’Connor, the main character finds a new love with a fellow resident at the Alzheimer’s facility. While the impact on the partner ‘left behind’ can be devastating, it provided a sense of relief for Justice O’Connor. As their son Scott said, “For Mom to visit when he’s happy – visiting with his girlfriend, sitting on the porch swing holding hands – was a relief after a painful period’.

As a reviewer said of Away From Her – ‘it is poignant, wise and unafraid’. The same can be said of Justice O’Connor and her family.

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