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Five Star Book: Mothering Mother by Carol D. O’Dell

Posted Oct 18 2008 12:11pm

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

Mothering Mother by Carol O'DellMothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

* * * * *

“Are you coming to bed, hon?” whispered my sleepy husband.

“In a minute . . . this is such a good book!” I said as  I glanced up.

From the first paragraph, Carol O’Dell’s book, Mothering Mother, had me spellbound. I just could not put this book down.

Sleep is my most precious commodity. It is rare for me to stretch the time before I turn out the lights. Yet, this engrossing story made me willingly break my own rule.

Most resources about caregiving focus on cold, factual advice to the reader. While how-to books can be very helpful, they don’t deliver an insider view of the physical and emotional impact of caring for someone daily for an extended period of time.

Mothering Mother propels you into O’Dell’s non-stop whirl of caring for a parent with Parkinson’s disease while caring for teenage daughters with their own needs and trying to sustain her relationship with her husband. Oh, she is also working to keep her sanity.

Alzheimer’s, Too

Through twists and turns in all of their lives, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the crazy-making outbursts from O’Dell’s mother, Noveline. But, I wasn’t laughing at O’Dell or her mother. I was laughing because my Dad or another elder said something  totally off the wall just like it.

Then, it hit me. At this point in the story, Noveline has symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in addition to Parkinson’s, but O’Dell doesn’t know what it is yet. I remember being baffled by things my Dad said. I remember my frustration with Dad’s paranoia and his unwarranted fears.

Dancing As Fast As She Can

Carol O’Dell is startlingly honest in describing her hectic life, her thoughts and her feelings - amused, angry, stressed, exasperated, determined, perplexed, overwhelmed and inspired by events as they occur. If you have never dealt on a daily basis with a baby’s dirty diapers or tried to lift a grown adult who has no strength, some of her descriptions may shock you.

Like most caregivers for aging parents, O’Dell didn’t take classes in geriatric nursing. She’s learning “on the job.” Insurance won’t cover nursing care in the home. Medicare only covers it for a short time after a hospitalization. Hospice help only arrives at the end, long after O’Dell has won the major battles.

Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir is an important book for caregivers and other family members to read.  Certainly, Carol O’Dell’s experience is her own. Yet, the book describes common issues that anyone caring for a parent, or considering it, needs to think carefully about.

Thank you, Carol O’Dell, for sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with us! This book rates five stars.

Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

© 2008 CK Wilde. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to link to this post but you must have prior written permission to reproduce this post either whole or in part. Please use the comments to request permission.

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