Cheryl's Reviews > Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

Mothering Mother by Carol D. O'Dell
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Aug 02, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: alzheimers, baby, boomers, daughters, inspiration, caregiving, death, dying, essays, parent, care, parkinsons, sandwich, generation, spiritual, caregivers, elder, family, grieving, relationships, mothers
Recommended for: anyone dealing with elderly or alzheimers

A Wonderful, Heartfelt Memoir

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.

Reminiscent of Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking and Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s with Morrie.

~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song and Divine Intervention
http://www.cherylktardif.com
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