I struggled between going to sleep at a decent hour last night and reading the book that I started the same afternoon. Carol D. O’Dell’s compelling book, Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, easily won my familiar battle between sleeping and reading.
Carol and I just had too many similarities (and a couple of major differences) not to continue reading this page-turner until the bittersweet end.
Carol, a mother of three, with her husband, invited Carol’s mother with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to move in with their family. Carol, an adopted child with no siblings, attempts to fulfill the childhood promise of never putting her mother in a nursing home. Carol struggles to maintain her roles as wife and mother in her own family and roles of daughter, caregiver and mother to her own mother.
I admire Carol for taking on this challenge. I was curious how she managed to accomplish this without losing herself (she almost lost herself a couple of times, and you’ll have to read the book yourself to learn the details).
On the other hand, I am married, have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s for eleven years, and my mother, 600+ miles away, is slowly dying of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). LBD is a horrible combination of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease with some of the features of Schizophrenia (see Lewy’Has a Grip on Mom). Like Carol’s mother, my mother is adamant about not wanting to be in a nursing home, and until her money runs out or the caregivers wear out, is living in her own home with 24/7 paid caregivers with my sisters and brother nearby actively participating in her care and visiting on a daily basis.
Also, my mother-in-law died with/from Parkinson’s three years ago. So I’m quite familiar with the emotional roller coaster that Carol is talking about, and you too will resonate with this topic in the future, if you haven’t already had a similar experience.
I enjoy Carol’s style of writing with her honesty, sensitivity and humor. Her book is a compilation of her journals as short vignettes, that she wrote to help her maintain her own sanity, while caring for her aging mother.
I laughed and cried as I identified with almost every funny and painful incident and felt like I was in the room with Carol and her mother throughout the entire book.
In fact, after staying up late to finish this book, I woke up early to purchase copies of the book for my brother and sisters, convinced that they too will identify with Carol’s challenges in her role as caregiver.
For more information about Carol D. O’Dell and her book, check out her website at: