Melted Away

A Memoir of Climate Change and Caregiving in Peru

Barbara Drake-Vera

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A prolific poet as a child, Barbara Drake-Vera loved writing almost as much as she adored her father, a moody postal employee with an elaborate comb-over and a fondness for Mahler. But when her successes sparked his rage, Barbara silenced her voice for years, terrified even to see her name in print. By age forty-nine, she was a professional journalist living in Peru and collaborating with her husband, a Peruvian-born photographer, to report on melting glaciers in the Andes, far from the reach of her father. Melted Away recounts what happens after her father is diagnosed with advancing Alzheimer's and Barbara takes him into her home in Lima, beginning a process of self-discovery that uncovers a path toward personal and family healing. A diverse group of allies support her on this quest: a trio of caregiving women from the provinces, who serve as home-health aides; a mischievous, Cervantes-quoting, nonagenarian suitor; and a stubborn alpaca herder who lives beneath a long-worshipped, life-sustaining Andean glacier now melting from rapid climate change.Candid, poignant, and deeply researched, Melted Away is the true story of how a writer at midlife reclaims her agency, and an ardent plea to care for the planet by embracing collectivism and mutual aid.

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