Thursday, July 05, 2007

Book Review: Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

Personal Note: This book will make you laugh; it will make you cry. It will make you think and make you feel. The book will give you some real perspective about your life and those you love. I recommend this book.

Editorial Reviews
From Booklist

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

"I loved this book! I not only loved it, I lived it. I laughed, I smiled and shuddered reading this book. O’Dell has captured the essence of every Baby Boomer’s struggle to parent our parents." — Judy H. Wright, author, Kids, Chores & More

"Those of us in the Baby-boomer generation will resonate with the emotional roller coaster that many of us have or are currently experiencing, or fear having to face with our own aging parents." —Barry K. Baines, MD, author, Ethical Wills: Putting your Values on Paper

"Carol O'Dell is my new hero. . . . Told in vignettes instead of a linear fashion, O'Dell tells in brutal honesty the horrors and pleasures of exactly what one shoulders when saying, 'Come live with us; I'll take care of you.'" —Armchair Interviews, Casa Publishing

Author Reviews

Lynn Hoffman "author: The New Short Course in Wine... (Phila., PA USA)

There are really two stories packed into this marvel of a book:
one is the story of how a family came together. This is the story
that will leave you in awe of the human will to love and to make
groups in which to exercise that will.
The second, longer story is about how that family got smaller with
a mother's sickness and death. It is told with such tenderness
and good humor that the reader is left elevated-up on a higher
level with a longer view of life and those we care about.Mothering
Mother is funny, moving, ennobling and a real treat to read.

By Cheryl Tardif "aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author... (Edmonton, Canada)

Carol O'Dell, author of her debut memoir Mothering Mother, will make you laugh and cry. Her heartfelt chronicle about caring for her dying mother is an emotional tribute to self-sacrifice and a daughter's unfailing love--an adopted daughter's love, to be more precise.

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 The River, Divine Intervention and Whale Song

Reader Reviews

By J. Frick (Amelia Island, Florida)

I loved this book, it made me laugh and it made me cry! I thought of my own mother and although she didn't have to linger on for years with a disease, I could relate to what Carol was going through -- and her family. Sometimes I think we forget how hard it is on the rest of the family beyond the primary caregiver. I love the style Carol wrote the book, in small sections, trying to capture events quickly. I would recommend this book to everyone!

By Belinda Hulin "Belinda" (Florida)

Anyone who has a mother--and especially those who are mothers--will find something edifying and soul-nurturing in this beautifully-written memoir. The end is sadly inevitable, but the journey there is a rich, full adventure of the heart. This true story shows that the bond between mothers and daughters can be a messy, painful business. But in the end, what shines through is the triumph, and the continuity, of love.

By Andy Tilley

Carol tells her heart breaking story with a frankness and honesty that says as much about her as a person as it does an author. The inevitability of her situation should be crushing but Carol's wit and candidness manages to lift even the darkest of moments. A must read for anyone who thinks that they might need help facing this, the most personal of challenges, in their future.

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease and Memory Loss in Later Life