Author Elizabeth Berg, best known for her many works of fiction, will share experiences from her own life and caring for her aging parents at a reading next week.
Vashon Community Care (VCC) will host the March 20 Zoom event, which opens its new Words and Wine speaker series, focusing on several aspects of aging.
Berg has written more than 30 books, and last October published “I’ll Be Seeing You: A Memoir” to acclaim. In it, she tells the story of how she and her siblings provided practical advice, emotional support and direction to their parents, who struggled with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease.
The couple was married for nearly 70 years. At their children’s urging, they left their home to move to an assisted living facility to receive additional support, while facing many challenges along the way.
Berg says that while she and her siblings were caring for their parents, it was stories from others about navigating the aging process with their loved ones that helped her the most. It is in that spirit that Vashon Community Care invited Berg to read from her book and continue the power of shared stories.
“After a difficult year for nearly all of us, I hope that islanders will share in this evening,” said VCC Executive Director Wendy Kleppe. “The author is a master of her craft, so no matter the subject, she is enjoyable to listen to. But more importantly, issues regarding aging, including dementia, are so important. It’s valuable to talk about them to better understand them and to better understand our individual and common experiences.”
Elizabeth Berg’s book helps with that, Kleppe said, providing lessons and words of comfort for all of us caring for loved ones in their later years. The book also has wisdom for all people as they age.
Berg has over 4 million copies of her books in print. She has written nearly two dozen novels in addition to multiple short story collections and works of nonfiction, many of which have been New York Times bestsellers. She has also been honored with the NEBA Award for her body of work.
Early in her professional life, Berg, now 72, worked as a nurse for 10 years. That experience served as her “school” for writing, she says, teaching her about human nature, hope and fear, love and loss, regret and triumph and especially about relationships, which are all central to her numerous novels and short stories as well as this poignant memoir.
Some booksellers have likened reading Elizabeth Berg to gathering with a good friend for tea and conversation at the kitchen table. That feeling is behind the intent of the event: sharing in experiences common to many of us and being company for one another on the journey.
VCC is hosting the event, along with Transforming Age, which owns VCC and has senior living communities in the Midwest and Northwest. Several of those communities will also participate in the event.
Registration for the event is free and is open on the Vashon Community Care website under the “Upcoming Events” tab. “I’ll Be Seeing You” is available through the Vashon Library, Vashon Bookshop and online outlets.
Next month from Vashon Community Care, look for its Lives Well Lived speaker series in partnership with the Vashon Heritage Museum. On April 8, it will feature islanders involved with the Medical Reserve Corps.
— Susan Riemer is the community relations director at Vashon Community Care and former editor of The Beachcomber.