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Under One Roof: Lessons I Learned from a Tough Old Woman in a Little Old House Hardcover – October 15, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Life’s most memorable experiences are often born out of the smallest moments. In 2006, Barry Martin, a construction foreman, knocked on the door of Edith Macefield, a crusty octogenarian who stubbornly refused to yield to a developer’s offers to buy her house to make way for a shopping mall. Martin gives her his cellphone number, an act that leads to his becoming Edith’s friend and primary caretaker and forming a bond between them that is as strong as it is unexpected. As Edith’s health declines and she becomes increasingly dependent on and demanding of Martin, his response provides an object lesson in easing someone toward death with dignity, respect, and tolerance. Martin applies these same lessons when dealing with his father, who’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just as Edith enters his life. With an assist from journalist Lerman, Martin’s memoir of his relationship with Edith is heartfelt and homespun. The wisdom he shares—you figure out the right thing to do, and you do it—will undoubtedly resonate with and inspire others struggling to care for elderly relatives or friends. --Patty Wetli

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“Told with frankness and sincerity, Martin, with the assistance of former USA Today editor Lerman, skillfully blends his deep desire to aid Edith with his frustrations with this cantankerous woman, his need to spend time with his own children and wife, and his thoughts and feelings toward his ailing parents. With a bit of humor and the determination to do right by this stranger-turned-close friend, Martin was able to help Edith do as she wished . . . A tender tribute to Edith and her will to do things her way.” ―Kirkus

“Martin's memoir of his relationship with Edith is heartfelt and homespun. The wisdom he shares--you figure out the right thing to do, and you do it--will undoubtedly resonate with and inspire others struggling to care for elderly relatives or friends.” ―Booklist

“UNDER ONE ROOF provides living proof that love often comes when it's least expected, and most needed. This heartwarming book is a testament to the power of friendship, no matter how different those friends may be. I couldn't put it down.” ―Dr. David Dosa, author of Making the Rounds with Oscar

“This lovely tale reminds us that in the rush of our liveswe might suddenly turn a corner and meet a stranger who delivers us to a deeper understanding of our place and purpose in the world. Barry Martin has written a story for the age we find ourselves in now, when we need to discover once again that our shared humanity is what we have in common, and it matters more than all those things that divide us.” ―Don Snyder, author Of Time and Memory

Under One Roof is a charming story and a blueprint for how to deal lovingly with the aging process. With compassion and humanity, Barry takes care of Edith and lets her make her own choices. Poignant and highly readable.” ―Father Pat Connor, author of Whom Not to Marry: Time-Tested Advice from a Higher Authority

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250003040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250003041
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Wong VINE VOICE on November 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
What would you do? You have a new job as a construction supervisor in Seattle and your name is Barry Martin. All the land has been purchased except one tiny plot where a very small old house sits. A great big shopping mall will be built there. A stubborn woman in her eighties refuses to accept the offer to buy her house for a million dollars. Her name is Edith Wilson Macefield. She believes in a place for everything and everything in its place. She comes outside to spread birdseed on her sidewalk. Well, you go over to introduce yourself, tell what you are doing, apologize for the noise and offer your help if she ever needs anything.

That began a very unusual relationship between the two in “Under One Roof: Lessons I Learned from a Tough Old Woman in a Little Old House. Barry Marin succeeds in telling his story beautifully and you will reading about his unusual friendship and learn so much from both of them.

Miss Edith Wilson Macefield is ornery, well dressed, can swear like a lumberjack and has known so many well-known people in her life so many that it seems like fiction. In fact Barry Martin is constantly wondering are her stories true or made up. She escaped from a Nazi prison camp and she taught a dance to Mickey Rooney and that is just a tiny glimpse of her experiences... Even though her stories are startling and diverse, the true value of this book is that of friendship and learning how to treat seniors.

I hope that you will read this book, I don’t see how it is possible that you will be disappointed, and it is a gem. I recommend it to all people who have parents who are alive or are caregivers and to all who want to read a fantastic story.

I received this book as a win from FirstReads but that in no way influenced my thoughts and feelings in this review.
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Format: Hardcover
A beautiful story of 2 people's journeys intertwining into a rare friendship. I couldn't put the book down until I had read the last page. I got so much out of reading this book realizing that every person, young or old has a story if we just take the time to listen. Thank you for sharing Edith and allowing others to experience her and your friendship through your eyes. An amazing story - Jodi
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. Could not put it down. It's a memoir, the story of an unlikely friendship between the superintendent of a massive construction project and the old woman who refused to sell her tiny house that sat in the way of the project. The superintendent, Barry, a likable man of fifty, meets the old lady (she's in her early 80s) when he begins the project. On his first day, he goes around (what remains of) the neighborhood, introducing himself to the people who'll be impacted by the dust and noise. One day she calls his cell to say she needs a ride to her hairdresser, and Barry obliges. Over the next three years, as she declines, he steps in, doing more and more for her (this is made at least somewhat more manageable by the fact that his office trailer is thirty feet from her door.) From making her breakfast and taking her to doctor appointments, he progresses to cooking all her meals and cleaning up after her when she falls and has accidents. Finally, he ends up shepherding her through her last days, fulfilling his promise to help her die at home rather than in "a facility," as she calls it.

There's so much in this story to love. Edith herself in her youth was an almost mythically heroic figure, and even now she's fiercely independent and a handful; Barry is the kind of guy you'd want for a son, dad, brother, but at times he blows his top trying to care for her; and his family and coworkers are all stand-up people. There are lessons aplenty in this book, which is well-written, well-paced, and well-edited. If you'll bear with me, I'd enjoy sharing a couple of passages with you.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I received my copy of the book from Goodreads First Reads program and enjoyed it very much. Under One Roof chronicles the relationship between Mrs. Edith Wilson Macefield and the author, Barry Martin.

Mrs. Macefield and Mr. Martin became acquainted due to a construction project that literally rose up around her tiny old house. Mrs. Macefield refused to sell her property to the developer of a shopping mall and what resulted was the unlikely friendship between a fiesty, oftentimes obstreperous 85 year old woman and the head of the construction project.

The book is written in a down to earth way that makes the reader feel as if Mr. Martin is sitting across from you talking to you as a friend or neighbor while spinning out his tale. This tale is the journey two people traversed that ended in understanding and compassion. It required baby steps....along with much give and take (quite a bit of take and manipulation on Edith's part) and ended to the surprise of both, I believe, with affection and a deeper understanding of the difficulties, frustrations, and loss of dignity so often experienced by the elderly. Mr. Martin came away with new insight on how to deal effectively with older people and was able to use that insight in his own family when dealing with his father's struggle with Alzheimer's. He came to understand boundaries; the difference between what was easiest for him in dealing with Edith as opposed to what was truly in her best interests. He learned that sometimes manipulation, anger, and tantrums on her part were, in truth, ways of expressing her frustration and fear of losing control over her life.
I believe that both Edith and Barry were enriched by their time together and were a testament to the power of friendship
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