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All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. With Refreshments Hardcover – September 27, 2012
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I read some reviews that talked about crying and recipes and wondered if this a book for me? But then I read the book. I didn't find myself crying, but instead found myself connecting with the story of our new generation who through the miracles of modern medicine get to see our parents live much longer then we'd imagined. While we celebrate this amazing progress, we haven't really had a discussion about what all this means to our humanity.
Through flashbacks from her childhood into her adulthood the memoir was a story about what it means to really love aging parents. She puts the guilt and sheer exhaustion of kids trying to be perfect parents to our parents right out there. She's starting a discussion that most of us are afraid to have about our concerns in the dignity of growing old in a culture that values only workplace productivity and the fear we all share of dying alone.
Like all great memoirs we are taken beyond just voyeuristic peering into another person's life. In this story, I saw a wonderful example for what it really means when we tell our mothers we love them.
This is a great read for any kid who is wrestling with becoming their parent's parent. And don't be surprised if you find yourself cooking while you read.
Witchel tries to save her. But dementia is not something one can concur. She tries doctor after doctor. She attempts to tempt her mother into stimulating activity. Once when she tells her that she must write notes because her (Alex's mother) had raised her to do so, her mother replies, "Then I'm glad I wasnt raised by your mother." Finally her mother turns to her and says, "In each part of life you do what you have to do. So what was she doing in this part? Dying."
This last sentence had an immense impact for me, not due to the statement of dying but the statement about stages. I had not coached my own mother's decline in those terms. Witchel's mother is still alive and this is her attempt to deal with her dementia. In true Jewish form ( I am also Jewish.) she turns to comfort food ease her way and to hope against reality to turn back time.
I enjoyed this book. I liked the snippets of recipes and I thought the back story of Witchel's childhood to be essential to lay the groundwork of the present. I would certainly recommend you read it. I dont think it was a "downer book", at least for me. It is more of a book that makes you say, "AHA, that is what I meant to say."