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Pearl Marie Yates, 80
"I grew up on my toes," says Pearl, a former interpretive jazz dancer and prima ballerina for the Boston Conservancy. She and her six siblings grew up as children of privilege, in a wealthy family in the British West Indies. Many evenings she returns from her day program giggling and laughing about her time with her friends. Today, sadly, is a bad day for Pearl, who was diagnosed with early dementia nine years ago. She has lived with her daughter Esther Caspino — a popular Atlanta TV and radio chef — for 10 years, and today Pearl is resentful and angry that her Esther recently downsized to a more manageable, yet still beautiful, ranch style home. Flexible hours allow Esther to, as she says, "pop in and out" — she even uses her home kitchen for taping shows. On her up days, Esther promises, "my mother is phenomenal and gushy!" Esther climbs into bed with her mom every Saturday morning with the same question: "What do you want for breakfast?" She adds, "You have to work hard at engaging your loved one. I take care of her the same way she took care of me."
—Frank J. Yuvancic
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