A Memoir by Max Sherman

Releasing the Butterfly is a love story that follows the decades-long relationship of a couple who met as teenagers by happenstance at a jail in the Texas Panhandle and find happiness in all situations...including Alzheimer's.

These descendants of blue-collar parents, raised in a tradition steeped in education and faith, became friends through a shared love of literature, theater, film, and music. Having come of age in the 1950s, they would have to negotiate the terms of their relationship to ensure a wholly equal partnership. They would learn how to navigate a life together, find fulfillment, and, ultimately, confront a heartbreaking challenge that threatened to upend their happiness and their own self-identities.

By a caregiver for caregivers, offering a glimpse of hope and resilience through Alzheimer's.

Releasing the Butterfly, a Memoir by Max Sherman
Book Themes:
Memoir & Reflection
Self-Discovery and Hope
Love & Community
Alzheimer's Advocacy
Max and Gene Alice Sherman

"I did not set out to write a self-help book about coping with a spouse who has Alzheimer's Disease. But in writing this book about my journey with my beloved Gene Alice, I helped myself."

Releasing the Butterfly, by Max Sherman
Susan Beresford, Former President of the Ford Foundation

"Once into Releasing the Butterfly, I could not put it down. 
A remarkable story — a love story, a career and family story, a health story, a tragedy, and an inspiring source of wisdom and comfort for us all, no matter what our circumstances are. It is likely the case that each reader will find his or her struggles in the account of Max and Gene Alice's lives together. The joy, the pain, the hard times, the fun are all part of our lives and Max Sherman shows how one leads to another and then back again. He mixes despair with hope and love and acceptance so beautifully."

Susan Beresford

Former President of the Ford Foundation

Resources for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Releasing the Butterfly is a source of comfort, understanding and practical advice for those navigating the complexities of Alzheimer's caregiving.

By supporting this book, you're not just gaining a resource; you're becoming part of a community that finds strength and solace in shared experiences. You are not alone!

If you or a loved one are caring for someone with Alzheimer's, the following resources may also be of help:

Alzheimer's Texas has a comprehensive collection of resources for caregivers navigating the challenges of Alzheimer's care, including:

  • 24/7 Help Line
  • Care Consultations
  • Support Groups
  • Respite Programs
  • Classes
  • Local & National Resources, and more...
  • Learn more at: txalz.org/caregivers
Memories with Max and Gene Alice
Bill Moyers, Journalist

"Releasing the Butterfly is so honest it hurts. However, it may help someone else groping fearfully down that dark corridor."

Bill Moyers


Join this growing movement of care and support today by ordering your copy of Releasing the Butterfly, or select the large print edition here. Then join a local support group or start a discussion in your town to bring caregivers together. We're stronger together.

Gene Alice and Max Sherman

What readers are saying:

"Max Sherman has written a profound and poignant love story about the partnership he and his wife have shared during their many years of marriage. Despite the darkening shadows of Alzheimer's that are affecting the relationship, the bond holds. An inspiring book!"

Amazon five-star review

Nancy Collins, Amazon review

Love Conquers Alz podcast interviews author Max Sherman

Episode 89 features an interview with author Max Sherman by Love Conquers Alz hosts Susie Singer Carter and Don Priess. Watch the interview here or listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Book Reading and Signing event with author Max Sherman

If you were unable to attend Max Sherman's recent book reading and signing event live at Westminster, you can watch and listen to the replay here:

Praise for Releasing the Butterfly

Esther Mackintosh, President Emeritus of the Federation of State Humanities Council

"In Max Sherman's beautiful book, we are given not only a vivid and indelible portrait of a talented, resolute, and fiercely independent woman, but also a memorable journey, by turns joyous, devastating, instructive, and inspiring. The description of the powerful partnership that sustained Max and Gene Alice through this journey will claim a permanent place in the reader's mind and heart."

Esther Mackintosh

President Emeritus of the Federation of State Humanities Council
Photographs of Max and Gene Alice Sherman over their love story
Photos of Max and Gene Alice Sherman
Jenny Sarpalius, Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

"In Releasing the Butterfly, Max openly shares his devastation, struggle, fear, and reality of not physically losing Gene Alice, but losing her to another world, in the grip of dementia and Alzheimer's, where not only was he no longer known or recognized, but where he felt helpless in protecting and caring for his vibrant, independent, strong-willed, beautiful wife and best friend. Max found himself on a new journey of trying to navigate this horrible disease, learning how best to communicate, understand, and care for Gene Alice, and, most importantly, ensure her safety; now a caregiver with no guidebook."

Jenny Sarpalius

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

Music, and especially Sacred Music, has always been important to Gene Alice.

Any proceeds from this little book will go to Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s program in sacred music.

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Sacred Music

This memoir was my attempt to pay tribute to my greatest love and to tell our story. Gene Alice and I virtually grew up together. We married for love. Our life has been a thrill and a joy. I wanted to end on one of my happiest memories of her.

Author Max Sherman
Author Max Sherman, photo by Annie Ray, AnnieRayCreative.com

About the Author

Max Sherman, with a notable career in public service and academia, has served as a Texas State Senator, President of West Texas State University, and Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs. His leadership roles also include President of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Vice President of the Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation.

Active on several boards, including the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Sherman is also the author of "Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder" (UT Press 2010) and "Releasing the Butterfly: A Love Affair in Four Acts" (2020).