Opening the Door to Family Conversation
I am not much of a reader, Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver is a must read for everyone, caregivers and care recipients. Most of us will either be a caregiver to our aging parents or be that aging parent, or both, in our lifetime.
When I started talking about Mother Lode, my parents both took an interest. Intrigued, they ordered their own copy and started reading as soon as it arrived. They each had a bookmark and took turns during the day, reading. And then something remarkable happened. We started talking.
As they got deeper into the story, we had almost daily conversations about what they were reading. Gretchen’s story became the springboard for a lot of new conversation. We talked about what it was like for them to care for their parents and for each other, but then we started talking about their own experiences this past year when they each encountered a health crisis of their own. [As we navigated their need for more care], reading this book led them to a new appreciation for those of us partnering with them.
Somewhere between Gretchen’s story and their own personal story, we started talking about really important things. We talked about the kinds of care they could receive at home and the possibility that as those needs change, so might the need for a different living situation. We have had talks about downsizing and about help with errands and chores. We’ve reviewed their advanced directive and spoken about other health documents like POLST [Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment] forms. Not easy or fun conversations, but another way to love one another.
The most meaningful thing about all of this is that it has helped bring us all closer together. Mother Lode is much more than a memoir. It is a doorway, a hallway, a window. Or maybe it’s a key that unlocks something beautiful.
Read it. Share it. Talk about it.
—Bonnie Rae Nygren (www.insearchofthevery.com)
I continue to be so grateful for this book in how it has inspired such great conversation. Lately, not a visit goes by where we don’t reference some passage or thought you shared. My mom finds herself in both of you and is writing her own thougjts about it to share. The added bonus is that it has been good inspiration for book reading in general. Somehow it has stimulated an interest deeper than the day to day news of the world. Both of my parents read the newspaper every day but there is often a scarcity of positive stories. Mother Lode jump-started a kind of curiosity that is getting some traction. Story is not just a great equalizer but can often be the light on a path. Thank you again for all of it!
It makes me so happy to know this. Especially that your parents are becoming more curious. Curiosity makes for happier, healthier people. My mother seemed happier—and had more to talk about than her complaints—when she was listening to recorded books. A her hearing made that increasingly difficult, as her vision made reading impossible earlier, she lost ground, and groundedness.