Sunday, June 21, 2015

CAREGIVERS: PARENTS AND CHILDREN SWAP ROLES


As baby boomers grow older they have begun to write books about playing a role they may never have anticipated, as caregivers for their aging and dying parents. Each of these books, found on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library, is as unique as the individual authors and their family dynamics. Caregiving can be difficult under any circumstance, and lifetime habits, good and bad, between children and parents repeat themselves. In the process love and respect seem to triumph.

Scott Simon, whose mellifluous voice can be heard on NPR’s Weekend Edition radio show, simply adored his mother Pat. Married three times and a single mother who supported her son by working in jobs on the edge of show business, she was 84 when she died. Scott was at her side tweeting about her progress and demise. His book Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother and the Lessons of a Lifetime is a tender tribute based on what Simon sent to his more than a million Twitter followers. The book tells the story of his mother’s life and the final moments they shared.

What is a cultured gay man going to do in small town Missouri? George Hodgman, down on his career luck, returns to his hometown to care for Betty, his stubborn mother who refuses to go into a home. His hoot of a memoir, Bettyville, is a witty and loving look at two people who make amends and come to understand and accept each other.

No blog post on this subject would be complete without mentioning the surprisingly hilarious and touching graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. Readers of baby booming age will nervously laugh as Chast explores such topics as cleaning out parents’ houses, finding good nursing homes and enduring both illness and death.  The book is not exactly a how-do, but there is no doubt that the author offers readers in the same situation a window into caregiving.


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