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While They're Still Here: A Memoir Paperback – November 7, 2017
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“ . . . amazing stories with captivating details surface, from the deeds both heroic and horrific her father witnessed in the Navy to her mother’s days as a singer, nightclub dancer, and model, along with the poverty both faced growing up in the Depression. The end result is an intimate oral history of a blue-collar, postwar American family revealed by the author in the same touching and heartbreaking manner it was disclosed to her. Both crushing and uplifting; an account nearly as emotional as the caregiver’s trials it vividly outlines.”
“With compassion and honesty, Williams shares how she navigated the complex journey with her parents during the last chapter of their lives”
“Where do I even begin after walking down such a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, terrifying, and hopeful Memory Lane with the author? I would like to try to jot down all the thoughts that crossed my mind and heart while reading this amazing memoir. While They're Still Here: A Memoir is more than just a book. It is a mirror that will encourage you to cherish your parents while they are still here."
"A refreshingly candid, poignant memoir that lays bare the physical and emotional costs of care, While They’re Still Here powerfully demonstrates the lengths we go to ensure the health and safety of our aging parents. Williams’ writing is stark and lucid, her well-crafted anecdotes filled with compassion even as her life is upended and her caregiving duties mount. Her book reminds us of the ability we all have to redefine our lives and our relationship with our parents―and to savor the time we have left with them."
—Jana Panarites, author of Scattered: My Year As An Accidental Caregiver
"Trish Williams is unwilling to let her parents’ lives slip away uninspected. Her journey through caretaking balances her family credo, “get over it,” with doses of compassion, self-examination, and humor. While They’re Still Here is a love letter to the author’s parents and a deep examination of aging. The daughter of two avid storytellers, it’s clear that Williams is a good listener. It’s a pleasure to watch as she discovers her own power to spin a tale and finds solace and self-worth in the power of story."
—Tanya Ward Goodman, Author of Leaving Tinkertown
“No matter how different our families may be, one thing’s for sure: they all come with plenty of baggage. Common themes abound, including impossible expectations, unmet dreams, and issues of identity, vulnerability, and a few family secrets tossed in for good measure. In this beautifully written memoir, we see how author and daughter Patricia Williams carefully unpacks it all while caring for her aging parents. The journey is a bumpy one, yet she manages it with grace, good humor, and most assuredly, love.”
—Judith Henry, author of The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving
“Patricia Williams’s compelling debut memoir, While They’re Still Here, is a smart, insightful, honest, poignant, and delightfully told story of the years Williams was her parents’ caretaker. As Williams traverses the difficulties inherent in caregiving, we witness her brilliant insights into reframing situations and self-talk in a way that makes any situation more manageable. I fell in love with her parents and you will too. This is the book I wish had existed when I was caretaking my own mother. A definite must-read!”
—Virginia A. Simpson, PhD, FT, award-winning author of The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life
“Trish Williams, as a responsible and dutiful daughter, weaves an engaging story of the struggles and painful moments in caring for her aging parents. But she doesn’t stop there. With humor and insight, she gives the reader a clear and compassionate view of their lives, including those sweet moments that make them more lovable in spite of themselves. She also shares her difficulties and frustrations in her role as ‘the responsible one.’ Of course, the irresponsible child would never have written the book!”
—Rosalie Thomas, RN, PhD
“In her new memoir, While They’re Still Here, author Patricia Williams writes about the ultimate role reversal. Her role as a loving daughter is slowly upended as she becomes a lifeline and caregiver for her aging parents as they try to negotiate the daily challenges that overturn their lives and hers. The role of caregiver is one many of us must face. Williams candidly shares the intimate and rewarding moments along with the fears and unexpected burdens that go along with this complex relationship. The reader will empathize and learn from her experience and will take away familiar themes they can learn from and that will stay with them.”
—Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW, patient advocate and award-winning author of Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents
“The emotional roller coaster of caring for an aging parent is not an easy ride. Baby boomers―the population riding that train right now―often find themselves trying to balance respect for a parent’s intelligence and independence with providing for his or her safety and security. It is a juggling act of epic proportions. In While They’re Still Here, that juggling act is an emotional tribute to self-sacrifice and a daughter’s unfailing love for her parents. To the author’s credit, it also glimpses the depth of understanding of her family and self that Williams achieved during this formidable experience. This book is written with honesty, humility, and love, and will remind anyone involved in caring for an elderly parent that you are not alone in your labor of love.”
—Sandra Bullock Smith, award-winning author of Trading Places: Becoming My Mother’s Mother
"This poignant memoir is a wonderful example of a caregiving experience, in that it doesn't shy away from the difficult truths. The reader can't help but admire the elderly couple as they face one medical crisis after another, or the author as she comes to their aid. By book's end, it is clear that despite the difficulties inherent in caregiving, the author looked at those years as a gift. This book is a must-read for anyone facing a similar situation, but you don't have to have cared for an elderly parent to appreciate this author's journey.”
―Mary Potter Kenyon, Story Circle Reviews
About the Author
Patricia Williams grew up in Elyria, Ohio surrounded by relatives and friends, then spent a few unforgettable years in Cumberland, Maryland. She is now retired from a long and satisfying career as a dental hygienist and lives in Olympia, Washington, where she has enjoyed gardening, crafting, tracing genealogy, reading, caring for pets, and entertaining visitors on the same parcel of paradise since 1977. She lives with her spouse, Katy Murray. Learn more about Williams at www.patriciawilliamsbook.com.
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The author has had an on again off again relationship with both her mother and father over the years and in her new position, its time to put her feelings aside, which you can imagine is almost bigger than the task at hand – cleaning up their house, sourcing medical records, taking them to and from doctor’s appointments, all while being cognizant of their feelings during this upheaval, and determining where the best place is for them to live.
Williams’ is in a unique position. She has the foresight to see that she can not only do something altruistic for the people who raised her, but she can try to get to know them, really know them, and savor this time as a gift that she never knew she was going to get.
I commend her not only for what she was able to do, but for the sacrifices that she made, the kindness and patience that she showed, and the extreme effort that she put in to the relationships with her parents. I can only assume that she gave two people better lives in the end, and extended their lives, and that is probably about the most rewarding accomplishment. We should all be so lucky.
Though I was familiar with Patricia’s smarts, organization and thoughtfulness in all she does (‘so Virgo’, she calls it!), I was blown away by the five-star precision of this work. The writing is tight, clear and compelling. I noticed not so much as a single misspelling, typo, or mixed metaphor! Incredibly professional. She set out to do a job, and did so with perfection.
The completeness, translation of emotion, and detailed accuracy of her reportage not only assured an enjoyable, believable read, but is of great inspiration and help to those of my generation who are passing through and soon enough will be living this life stage. Additionally, she has thoughtfully enhanced the story with a collection of family photographs on her webpage which always contribute to the enjoyment and depth of the story.
You might expect the high rating in support of someone I know, but you can trust it is coming from someone who knows a wonderfully capable personal non-fiction narrative when he sees it.