Last month, a profile of lifestyle guru B. Smith published in The Washington Post revealed surprising facts about her life with Alzheimer’s disease.
After being diagnosed with the progressive memory disorder in 2013, B. (whose full name is Barbara Smith), 63, began to rely more and more on her husband Dan Gasby, 64.
Today, B. struggles to form full sentences, does not recognize herself in old photos, and relies on Dan for just about everything.
So many of B.’s longtime fans were shocked to learn that Dan had started dating another woman, and even invited her into his home with B.
Dan’s new girlfriend Alex Lerner, 53, has spent so much time with B. that she can recognize Alex as a friend, but Dan insists his wife does not fully understand his new relationship.
After facing backlash, as fans accused him of mistreating or even exploiting his wife, Dan is speaking out in a new interview, and claiming that B. gave him her blessing to pursue other women.
Dan sat down with Today show host Al Roker, revealing he actually received death threats after his relationship with Alex went public. He says speaking out about his new life with Alex was actually a way to honor B.
What do you want people to know out of all of this?— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 6, 2019
"I want people to know we are in a very caring, loving relationship with B," says Dan Gasby's girlfriend on her relationship with Dan through B.Smith's battle with Alzheimer's. pic.twitter.com/VqhjqjjMBb
"She and I talked about what she wanted. She said if she were incapacitated, she wanted me to care for her but also have my own life," Dan said. "I am doing what my wife asked me to do: Living my life. I can still care for B. and also have happiness thanks to Alex."
But he says the public backlash to his new relationship is more interested in juicy gossip than difficult truths.
"It spun out of control to 'I’m having an affair. This woman, because of who she is, is taking B’s money. We’re abusing B. B. wouldn’t want this' These people have never even talked to B."
Dan also suggested that B.’s Alzheimer’s disease has less to do with the public backlash than other details of his new relationship.
"The 800-pound gorilla in this situation is [Alex is] white," he said.
For Dan and Alex, who both act as B.'s caretakers, their relationship is much more natural than it might seem from the outside looking in.
"Taking care of someone like B, even having someone who is taking care of her periodically...the weight of every minute of the day is a blanket on you," he added.
"And (Alex) was funny. The most important thing, she was kind. And we became friends, and that friendship got closer and closer."
"We find ways to laugh together and find joy in taking walks or doing things together," Alex said about her bond with B. "I would almost say that it's like sisters. It's a very sweet feeling."
For the record, Dan’s daughter Dana, who was also raised by B., gave her blessing to the new relationship and sees no problem with it.
"Why shouldn't my dad have companionship? Why shouldn't he have someone to talk to?" she said.
"I am beyond happy for them. I'm more pissed at the people complaining about them. My life, my family, my stepmom isn't a trending topic. My stepmom is dying, plain and simple."