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Nell Lake’s grandmother, Hildegard, valued health and independence. Facing frightening medical news at 78, Hildegard ended her own life. Looked at one way, Lake acknowledges the dignity of Hildegard’s choice; still, she wonders what the family missed, including “the intimacy that may come with tending and being tended to. The opportunity to love, to move toward even what frightens us.” Lake tells the story in a prologue to “The Caregivers,’’ her beautifully written account of a year in the company of caregivers. The wives, husbands, and daughters of the very ill (mostly dementia patients), Lake’s subjects came to weekly support group meetings at their small city’s hospital. There they share their stories, often with astonishing candor
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