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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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Carol's mother adopted her late in life and raised her in a strict, religious environment. But it perhaps is their faith that kept them all together until the end. Although she has her faults and may seem somewhat cool at times, Mama did the best she could, and I think that is the realization that the author has come to. And certainly, it is what we all should hope to conclude at the end of our parents' lives.
The author shows us her own strength and her weaknesses, baring her thoughts, her emotions, her decisions and her very soul in a way that takes more courage than many of us would have. A loving daughter with a mother who suffers from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, she takes her mother into her home, working around a husband and kids, and fighting the inevitable. Faced with the deteriorating health of a stubborn mother, Carol is faced with countless tasks in any given day or night, tasks that threaten to destroy her physically, mentally and spiritually. Many of the anecdotes are charming and hilarious, while others are heartbreakingly sad.
I recently bought a copy for my own mother--for Mother's Day--even though my mom is healthy, still working and independent. And while this may seem a strange gift, I felt that Carol O'Dell's book shows a glimmer of light at the end of what most people view as a dark tunnel. She shows that sometimes being prepared is half the battle. Perhaps then, many of us would not feel as though too many things were left undone, unsaid...unforgiven.
Mothering Mother is a beautiful story, a true story, of how love can conquer even death. I've never laughed and cried at the same time so much. It made me want to call my mom and tell her how much I love her. It made me talk to my daughter and tell her that if she ever had to care for me and felt that I was too much of a burden, that it was okay to look for alternate care.
I'll be honest; I normally don't read a lot of memoirs. I often find them hard to relate to. But I LOVED Mothering Mother! It is the type of book that everyone should read. It will stay with you long after you have put it down. And for those caring for aging or dying parents, it will give you hope and remind you that you are not alone--someone else has traveled this path...and she survived. So can you.
~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Author of Divine Intervention
UPDATED 2/25/13 - even though I knew what was coming it still shook me up when Carol`s mom died. I felt as though I lost my own parent.
My only complaint was all the typos in the Kindle version. I don`t know if the print edition is as flawed.
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[consider gifting this to those who are caring for a family member]
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