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Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir Hardcover – April 1, 2007
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O'Dell, a member of the "sandwich generation"--made up of boomers taking care of both their own children and their elderly parents--portrays the experience of looking after a mother suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's with brutal honesty and refreshing grace. She peppers the memoir with scenes from her past, including meeting her adoptive parents ("The first time I saw Mama, I was four years old") and the death of her father. With three children and a husband of her own, O'Dell is torn in multiple directions, trying to be mother, daughter, nurse, cook, caregiver, maid, and more to a household of needy people. Mama's neediness is unrelenting, and O'Dell is at once bitter and sorry that her mother cannot be who she was. When the inevitable end comes, O'Dell wonders why she longed for the free time she now finds lonely and empty. A beautiful rendering of a difficult but all-too-common situation, told with plenty of humor, a touch of martyrdom, and much love. Mary Frances Wilkens
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Top Customer Reviews
As I read this book, I still, at times held my breath, involuntarily till I reached the end of a sentence or paragraph. Breathe in, breathe out, I had to tell myself
That's how you survive. Maybe someday when she is gone, I won't have to remind myself to breathe in and out. She still with us, but in care home now, 5 minutes away from my house.
Thank you Carol for your humour, inspiration and wisdom, thru my continuing journey.
Northern BC, Canada.
As the disease advanced, O'Dell became more immersed in her mother's daily care, but with less and less emotional reward from a mother who no longer recognized her. And what about O'Dell's husband and kids who also wanted her attention? It is strange going from the craziness of caregiving for mom to the normal concerns of kids and husband.
While most of us who are not in the situation would probably rather not think about it, this strange stew is part of the human condition. One of the reasons I read memoirs is to put myself in another person's shoes, and experience what their world is like, and Carol O'Dell's book has given me that, an intimate look at this most disturbing experience.
In addition, she has offered me a sort of hope, in a surprising direction. Carol O'Dell faced the painful situations, she used writing, both to eloquently communicate to the reader and also to contain and absorb some of her own experiences. She talks in the book about walking out to the river to center herself after an especially painful bout. I also can feel her retreating to her room and writing in her journal.
I believe the act of writing is the opposite of Alzheimer's. It doesn't cure the disease, certainly, but it helps establish or re-establish the sanity and purpose of life, so that we can stay alive, energetic, and hopeful despite such horrific and confusing setbacks. Writing about inhumane situations creates a sort of humanity of its own.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
[consider gifting this to those who are caring for a family member]
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