Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Read of An Uncertain Inheritance - Part 3

An Uncertain Inheritance: Writer’s on Caring for Family edited by Nell Casey

Joanne D. Kiggins in her blog, WritingAfterDark, gave a real review.

Death in Slow Motion by Eleanor Cooney (read January 30, 2008)

I really enjoyed reading this story. I think at least in part it is because this one was particularly about Alzheimer's. The mother is the loved one in this story and the daughter and her "mate" are the primary caregivers with help from a brother.

More particularly I guess it is her ability to write about the symptoms and the behaviors and her feelings and actions as well as her mate's. I've highlighted a good many passages. I will share a few:

"Take time out for yourself, they chant. Time out for yourself? I'll let you in on a secret. There is no time out, not even when you are sound asleep."

"Before we knew it, we were financially dependent on her."

"And then there was plenty of good old-fashioned guilt: guilt over dragging my mother away from her home, ... "

"What's the point of fun if you can't remember it."

"Here's an intimate and unhappy fact of senile dementia: They become unappetizing. The don't bathe unless you make them. ... "

"After my mother's arrival we produced 558 dinners on schedule, every night, without fail ... "

Now this last one made me think. I was just 2 months short of 9 years but we had about 3 months in the hospital all together so that's about 103 months or roughly 3,090 days. That's for Dad. I had Mom about 34 months or 1,020 days. That is more than 4,100 suppers, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks. And nearly all of them at the same time every day. Never had thought about it like that.

"If I went and locked myself into the bathroom, she'd go outside, circle around, and tap-tap-tap on the window. Her need for me and her vigilance wore me down, down."

"... she'd been undressing ... and I'd seen the gentle curve of her belly, and when I got home that night after putting her to bed I lay on the floor and wept helplessly for an hour."

There's a lot more good stuff in this one. She's an atheist by the way.

Mourning in Altaic by Ed Bok Lee (read January 30, 2008)

Oh man - another one I really, really liked. Father is the patient in this one. The son is the writer and he does not do all the caregiving but doggone he really does a good job of writing about his father and his father's illness.

I think it is more about a son trying to really understand and come to grips with his father as much as anything.

Here is one amazing exchange between the two that is included:

'"Maybe you could pray," I said. I knew form my mother that his father had been an old-school Confucian, his mother a Buddhist, but his older sister a devout Christian. "I do," he said. "To whom?" I'd gotten used to rubbing his legs without having to ask, the skin astonishingly loose against sharpest bone. "I don't know," he whispered.'
Good read.

Don't Worry, It's Not an Emergency by Susan Lehman (read January 30, 2008)

I liked this one, too. Mother is loved one and daughter is caregiver and moves her mother from Toledo to New York City.

It is the description of the characters in this one that I love so much. I think it's impossible to make up stuff like this. And the interaction of the children with their grandmother is astonishingly wonderful for me.

In The Land of Little Girls by Ann Hood (read January 30, 2008)

Oh my! I cried reading this one. I've been in the hospital with my children. I've been in the hospital with loved ones who nearly died and who did die.

You must prepare yourself before reading this one but it is a must. I am not going to add more because it is just too powerful.


nancy said...

sounds to me like the stories get better further into the book. i hope the library calls me soon. i am really anxious to read it now!

Lori1955 said...

Sounds like you are really getting into this book. I like that statement about praying and not knowing to whom. Those are powerful words. I often wonder if as we come to the end of our lives if everyone becomes aware of the presence of God.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

You're about 3/4 of the way through the book, Terry. I do love your take on each individual essay. you think you got your monies worth? ;) Naturally, all the stories are not for everyone, but I still think it's a good read.