Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver
Biography / Memoir
October 18, 2022
She promised one year, living with her stubbornly independent 96-year-old mother, cleaning out the house her parents had stashed musty history in for five decades, and getting her mother moved elsewhere. Four years later, the author is still trying to stay sane in the face of her mother’s increasing dementia, fighting old battles and learning respect and acceptance.
She promised a year in her childhood home—where her parents had spent fifty years boxing musty history behind cabinet doors and stashing stuff that “might be useful again” into every drawer, shelf, and cubbyhole—caring for her stubborn 96-year-old mother, having been comfortably distanced from her by the continent between them for decades. It would be a sort of middle-aged gap year. Then her mother would move to assisted living and she would return to her own life, their relationship magically having become all she ever longed it to be. Why is nothing that easy?
As they each try desperately to keep a firm grasp on their independence, their daily battles in Mama’s kitchen fiefdom echo the clash of adolescence and menopause in the very spot decades earlier. Penetrating the fog of her mother’s advancing memory loss, hypochondria, and blindness, the author slowly comes to accept and respect the mother she got, if not the one she wished for. In the process, she becomes a self-taught authority on aging, dementia, and self-care. But how long will healing between mother and daughter take, and how long do they have?