Many of us remember the tragic news of B. Smith being reported missing back in 2014. It was then that we learned the model, restaurateur and lifestyle guru, was living with early onset Alzheimers.
In a recent interview with People, Dan Gasby, B. Smith’s husband of 23 years, explains what life has been like taking care of his wife who has been living with the disease for three years now.
Gasby says it’s an around the clock job.
“It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever dealt with. Anybody who is an Alzheimer’s care giver knows exactly what other caregivers are going through. It’s 24/7. The complexity and the intensity of it is very tough.”
Smith, who is 66, was diagnosed in 2013, after her husband noticed she became increasingly moody and forgetful.
The news of her disease came as she was continuing to build her empire. She opened three restaurants, wrote three cookbooks, hosted a nationally syndicated television show and was the first African American woman to appear on the cover of Mademoiselle. She also launched her own brand of home goods at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Also in the midst of battling the disease, Smith wrote a memoir called Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s. It will hit shelves on Tuesday, January 19.
In the memoir Smith and Gasby also share the details of drug trials and research to help Alzheimer’s patients.
“I want to help a lot of people,” Smith said.
The couple dedicated the memoir to Congress in hopes they will increase funding for research to find a cure. The disease most commonly affects women and African Americans.
Gasby said with someone being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds and all of the technology in this country, America should be leading the world on this.
Gasby also mentioned the financial and emotional costs of caring for a loved one with this disease.
“[It] is overwhelming most of the time. I’m taking it one day at a time,” he says. “It’s extremely difficult. At times I feel like I am between the Titanic and the iceberg and the water is cold and it makes a difference which one I get on.”
But it’s his devotion to B. that allows him to carry on.
“The real secret to love,” he says, “is that you gotta like who you love, because that’s what’s going to take you through the tough things.
“She is without a doubt a decent person,” he says. “She has always found the good in people. She is selfless, not selfish. She cares about people. You would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t like Barbara Smith or B. Smith.
Over the 28 years in the restaurant business, we got hundreds of letters that remind us of when she made a difference in someone’s life.”
Smith looked over at her husband and smiled saying, “He takes good care of me,” and then wiping away tears added, “I love him.”