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The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting Hardcover – April 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In this moving yet unsentimental memoir, Cohen chronicles the year her aging father, Sanford, suffering from mid-to-late-stage Alzheimer's, came to live with her and her baby, Ava, in a New York State farmhouse. The three endure a cold winter, Ava's teething and the ravages of Alzheimer's. Sanford, a retired economics professor, retains his physical health while his mind deteriorates, a process Cohen-a Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin reporter-describes in detail and with compassion, even as he loses the ability to know her ("I am having something of a blackout. Perhaps you can remind me who you are?"). Ava learns to walk and talk while Sanford forgets how to climb stairs and struggles with his vocabulary (when he can't remember the word "water," he substitutes "the liquid substance from the spigot"). "Daddy walks around now this way, dropping pieces of language behind him, the baby following, picking them up." Naturally, life's difficult. Sanford misses his wife, who lives with Cohen's sister on the other side of the country; Cohen's husband abandons them early on and she struggles to find help from local social services. Even though "each day arches numerous times toward disaster," the trio survives, even thrives. Cohen takes pleasure in her daughter, outings in parks, friends' and neighbors' generosity and the "memory project"-her attempt to catalogue her father's stories from his childhood, war years in the Pacific and teaching career. With splashes of humor and occasional-and understandable-self-pity, Cohen's fluid prose lifts her forceful story to a higher level, making it a tribute to her father and her family.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The publisher reports lots of early interest in the gentle tale of a woman caring for both her infant daughter and her father, who is afflicted with Alzheimer's.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am overwhelmed by the truth of this poetry, because I am in a similar situation: my father-in-law was diagnosed with dementia a few months after my daughter's birth. As Dad has declined, my daughter has thrived. It is undeniably sad. Yet they are central to each other's worlds; even on days when Dad seems to know no one, you can tell he remembers G. You can tell she loves him and he loves her even though they can't speak.
A greater theme in Cohen's book is the power of community; her neighbors help her bear her burdens (chopping firewood, shoveling her driveway, watching Ava), just as she helps her father bear his. Thus, even if you are not directly touched by Alzheimer's or the like, this well-written and touching book is likely to resonate with you too.
May the world still be this way when we are older.
I always try to paint a picture for potential clients by using my own families experiences with needing care to make the issues more real. From now on I will just give them a copy of the book. It will do a much better job.
I read the "House On Beartown Road" in one sitting on a rainy Sunday with tears in my eyes as I finally understood how lucky my own family was to have had my mom as a fulltime caregiver to both sets of grandparents as well as my father over a period of years. People like Elizabeth Cohen and my mom are great examples of loving family members that did what needed to be done with grace, dignity and a sense of humor. I didn't understand or fully appreciate the concept of being a caregiver while running around in my on life and watching my mom from a distance but after reading the book I sure did!
I strongly suggest that every adult with aging parents read the book today as tomorrow may be to late. It will make you think in many different ways. For some reason I really think the author wrote the book to help the rest of us to be better prepared to deal with this growing national crisis of aging parents. Thanks to Ms. Cohen.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
conditions. Ms Cohen writes about the landscape of a family caring for an advanced