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All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. With Refreshments

All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. With Refreshments

Escrito por Alex Witchel

Narrado por Alex Witchel


All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. With Refreshments

Escrito por Alex Witchel

Narrado por Alex Witchel

avaliações:
3.5/5 (19 avaliações)
Comprimento:
5 horas
Lançado em:
Sep 27, 2012
ISBN:
9781469214467
Formato:
Audiolivro

Descrição

At just past seventy, Alex Witchel's smart, adoring, ultra-capable mother began to exhibit undeniable signs of dementia. Witchel reacted as she'd been raised: If something was broken, she would fix it. But as medical reality undid that hope, she retreated to the kitchen, trying to reclaim the mother who was disappearing in plain sight, by cooking the comforting foods that were her mother's signature.

Reproducing the perfect meat loaf was no panacea, but it helped a grieving daughter come to terms with her predicament, the growing phenomenon of "ambiguous loss" - loss of a beloved one who lives on. Gradually Witchel developed a deeper appreciation for all the ways the mother she was losing lived on in her, starting with the daily commandment - "Tell me everything that happened today" - that set a future reporter and writer on her path. And she was inspired to turn her experience into this bittersweet account that offers true balm for an increasingly familiar form of heartbreak.
Lançado em:
Sep 27, 2012
ISBN:
9781469214467
Formato:
Audiolivro


Sobre o autor

Alex Witchel is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and also writes "Feed Me," a monthly column for the Times Dining section. The author of the novels The Spare Wife and Me Times Three, she lives in New York City with her husband, Frank Rich.

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3.7
19 avaliações / 19 Análises
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Avaliações de leitores

  • (3/5)
    A memoir of that author's family, family relationships, in particular that with her mother. I enjoyed her story despite the sadness around her mother's slowly developing dementia. At the end of the book was this passage: "I admired a new napkin holder she'd made in her ceramics class. . . You decorate my house", I said. She smiled at me. "You decorate my heart." I went into the bathroom and tried not to cry, without success. When I came out she saw I was crying and joined right in. . . But somehow, as we clung to each other, drowning in defeat, I felt an unexpected tranquility take hold. I had tried and tried and tried to fix her, and I had lost. . . . And she loved me exactly the same as if I had won."And at the end of the chapters there are also some wonderful sounding family recipes that I am going to try - her mother's meat loaf, paprika potatoes, potato latkes, chicken with prunes. . .
  • (3/5)
    A good read about a a relationship between a mother and a daughter. It was a little difficult to get into at first, but after a while, I was emotionally invested. The book follows what happens as the Mother's health deteriorates, and is at times funny and at times heartbreaking. The asides about cooking and the recipes seemed to fit in in certain parts, and in others sort of distracted from the story. All in all it was a good read.
  • (5/5)
    In this day and age, when anyone and everyone and her sister writes blogs and self publishes books, and everyone thinks she can write well.... it is refreshing to read a book by a *writer*... who can actually write with talent! Witchel writes about her mother with such tenderness and wit and clarity, that it didn't matter that there were no black and white photos of her Mom in the book. You get the picture perfectly. I feel like I know her mother. And if that weren't enough, Witchel includes recipes in her book! Ones her mother used. And what's so funny and touching is that they aren't home made natural all-from-scratch ones as you'd expect. No, her mom used Lawry's seasoning. And canned peas... and other processed stuff I wouldn't use! :-) But it's clear how Witchell loves her mom, loves the recipes she grew up with, and loves how the dishes turned out. They mean home to her and she finds great comfort in them, especially now that her mother has dementia.

    Witchell's writing reminds me a lot of Jeannette Wall's. If you haven't read The Glass Castle and you like memoirs, you should read that one too.
  • (4/5)
    Sad, scary... but something to identify with-- a little.
  • (3/5)
    As a person who has a grandmother diagnosed with profound dementia and senile paranoia, I am constantly looking for information about elder care. It is both a comfort and upsetting to know that there are many others that struggle with this nightmare called dementia. Like the author, my grandmother’s dementia originated from several strokes, which caused permanent brain damage. This book is about the author’s struggle to accept her mother’s spiral decline into the world of memory loss and confusion. It is both a memoir of her life and her mother’s life. The author writes about her mother’s early signs of dementia and how she failed to accept her symptoms, but soon chose to embrace them head on to seek treatment. This book was both a struggle and a challenge for me to read. In one aspect I can understand the emotional turmoil that the author felt when accepting the changes her mother went through. On the other hand, I found the book had very little to do with dementia and mostly focused on the author’s life. There was interesting historical information about her mother, which allowed us to see her mother as a child. However, it did not really do anything for me when it came to applying it too dementia. I have been struggling with profound dementia for 3 years with my grandmother. She has the kind that has turned combative and has required us to place her in a protective care environment. Upon reading this book I honestly believe that the author’s mother had the early stages of the disease when the book was written. I did not see any real episodes of dementia and those that were discussed were mild. I would consider this book to be more of a memoir about the author’s relationship with her mother. I just did not see enough information on dementia to justify the heading of the book. I believe the title needs to be changed. Either way, the author is still a talented writer and her book was very interesting. I wish her much luck in the future with both her sister and her mother!
  • (4/5)

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

    As I lost my own mother to stroke-induced dementia before she actually died, Alex Witchel's book struck a cord with me. Ms. Witchel, who is a food columnist for the New York Times and also the wife of theater critic and op-ed columnist, Frank RIch, has written both a moving tribute to her mother and also a harrowing tale of dealing with frequent contradictory medical advice as well as managing family members who are frequently less than helpful.Ms. Wichel's mother was something of an anomoly in the 1950's and 1960's: an educated, driven, professional woman who did not fit into the suburban society of that era, but who maintained a fierce pride in her accomplishments. She was the touchstone of the author's life, so when the signs of dementia appeared her first instinct was to "fix it." She found that this was easier said than done, and becoming reconciled to the inevitable is one of the redemptive elements in this moving memoir.If you've ever cared for an aging parent, or anticipate doing so, this is a valuable book to read.

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

  • (4/5)
    A heartfelt book about a daughter, who was exceptionally close to her mother, and the mother who had sufffered a series of small strokes and whose memory was slowly eroding. Hoping to help her mother, who had always taken pride in how she took care of her family, she began to cook with her hoping to spark her old memories. Sad in parts, a very able woman slowly fading away and yet also very perceptive in reallizing that to help her mother she has to be willing to let her go. My mom is still alive, thank the lord, in reasonable health, but so much of this book reminded me of my mother and I that at time is was very eerie.
  • (3/5)
    You count on your mom to always be there for you. Even when you're an adult, you count on her remaining the person who once upon a time tucked you in at night, kissed away boo-boos, made your favorite dinner for your birthday, and celebrated all your accomplishments small or large. But when that mom starts to disappear into the smothering fog of dementia, you have to mourn the loss of the bed-tucking, boo-boo-kissing, dinner-cooking, celebratory mom long before she is actually gone. Alex Witchel's brief memoir All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia, With Refreshments chronicles the painful way in which an adult child has to say goodbye to the mom of memory long before time and the way in which, even though that mom is trapped inside the malfunctioning synapses of her own brain, Witchel can still keep her close in her heart and in her kitchen.Written non-linearly, this memoir deals with the present day tasks of taking care of an aging and ill parent, memories of Witchel's childhood, and a few recipes that she remembers her mother cooking. While the three are connected, they are not necessarily integrated together well. Witchel's initial denial, sorrowful acceptance, and frustration with the disease claiming her mother's past, present, and even her very personality is presented honestly and bare of embellishment. The portion of the memoir dealing with the slow slide of her mother's disappearance into dementia is the most poignant, best written of the memoir. The portions of Witchel's childhood are occasionally instructive of her relationship with her mother but often that connection is hard to make and so the bouncing between childhood and the present can feel disjointed. The third bit of the book, and one that I expected, given the subtitle, to take more precedence deals with Witchel cooking the recipes she remembers her mother making, finding comfort in the comfort food of their family. While we all have a visceral connection to the food of our childhood, it seemed an odd way for her to conjure up the mother of her youth given that her mother seemingly didn't like to cook. Her recipes feel as if they were all culled from newspaper columns or magazine aimed at the "new working woman" and the convenience that she would desire in facing dinnertime after putting in a full day at the office, not as if they were treasured family recipes. And often the recipes are plunked at the end of the chapters with little or no tie to the content of the chapter. As a concept, the connection of food with memories of childhood and the present reality of a mother shrouded in dementia is a natural one and there are moments when Witchel gets it right. Unfortunately, there were more moments for me where she doesn't quite get there.
  • (3/5)
    I was looking forward to reading this book but was ultimately disappointed. It was if the author couldn't decide what the book was supposed to be - a memoir of her childhood, a book about her mother's dementia, a foodie memoir, etc. Because of this I found the writing scattered and not always engaging.
  • (4/5)
    I have been on quite a memoir kick as of late. Each has been better than the last and thankfully, All Gone followed that pattern as well.In All Gone, author Alex Witchel recounts her mother’s battle with dementia. With refreshments, of course. The book begins with how Ms. Witchel copes by cooking her mother’s recipes, using food as a way to bridge the gap between who her mother was and is becoming. Each chapter ends with a difference recipe from Alex’s collection, recipes formed not only in food but memories. All Gone is packed with sentiment. She portrayers her dilemma with heartbreaking truthfulness. As a reader, I felt her grief, her sadness at losing her mother although she is presently here in body. As Alex says, gone but not gone. This memoir touched me deeply especially since my parents are getting older. I read this partially in fear of what I might have to go through. I hope that if I was ever in the same situation, I would survive with as much poise and grace as Ms. Witchel has. The beauty in this memoir not in the coping though. It is in how Ms. Witchel finds her way back to herself. I believe foodies and non-foodies alike will enjoy this short memoir. It also inspired by to search out my own family recipes, to learn how to make them with as much love as my parents cook and to make my own food memories.
  • (4/5)
    All Gone is a poignant and heartfelt memoir about a parent's decline into dementia. The descriptions of Witchel's mother's increasing forgetfulness and depression are described with wonderful depth and emotion. Alex Witchel is an accomplished writer (despite what her horrorshow of a father says), but this book could have used stronger editing. The refreshments mentioned in the subtitle are recipes at the end of each chapter, and are nostalgic but sometimes nasty -- frankfurter golash (shudder)? The book would have been better without them, as most are only tangentially mentioned in the memoir.Witchel occasionally prattles on about her professional life rather than focusing on the painful reality of her mother's decline, and that feels like filler. In the end I wanted more, but it felt like Witchel was too exhausted to give it.
  • (3/5)
    I was so looking forward to reading this book because I'm dealing with my father-in-law who is in the throes of dementia. I did enjoy reading what to me turned out to be a biographical account of the author's mother, and herself. What a wonderful old fashioned childhood, and what a wonderful woman her mother was. I was disappointed that there wasn't more about the dementia and how it affected the family. I wanted more present, less past. The stories of a childhood growing up with such a dynamic mother were excellent but I felt like the book was misrepresented, more of a memoir of the author than a story about dealing with a parent with dementia.
  • (4/5)
    Sometimes I dislike reading ARCs: I wonder what I'll miss by not reading it again to see what changed. Of course, not all, or even many, books do I reread. Not so much because I might not have like the book, but because my to-read list/pile is so large.Witchel's book is partially subtitled, "A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia" but in truth it is about her own journey, facing and coming to terms with her mother's illness. As she is employed writing about food, it was natural to use that as an anchor through the book. There are 13 recipes in the book; one or two at the end of each chapter. One bit about the food/recipes was curious to me. In chapter six, she tells about a sort of kreplach cook-off with [[Arthur Schwartz]]. She made her grandmother's recipe for the meat pie, which was fried; his recipe called for the kreplach to be boiled, but they fried his too that day. Their tasting test preferred her grandmother's recipe, but in the book they printed his recipe for the boiled.It was a pleasure to read a well-written book (there is so much drek being published these days) even though the subject was rather heart-breaking. If you have had to deal at all with the declining health of a love one and the helpless, sometimes hopeless, feelings that come with it, you will appreciate this book. If you've been so far fortunate not to have to do so, read it anyway, because someday you will, and perhaps Witchel's thoughts will help you through it.
  • (2/5)
    Caregiver burnout and a family’s denial of dementia are well illustrated in this short memoir. The author describes her food columns in the New York Times as idiosyncratic and personal, that also applies to this book which was really about the author dealing with her family history and loss – her mother’s dementia was just one of the losses that she was grieving. As a fellow caregiver I identified with many of the interactions with her mom but I grew frustrated with the ongoing denial and constant longing for a happy past that apparently wasn’t that happy to begin with.
  • (3/5)
    In the manner of "Like Water for Chocolate," author Alex Witchel brings recipes in play with the body of the story. After the loss of her beloved grandmother, Witchel felt the distance of her career-obsessed mother eased, if only temporarily, in the kitchen. Unfortunately, what the book's subtitle promises is not enough even for a short novel such as this. It felt to me that 2/3 of the book was about the author's life and accomplishments, which did not relate to what the reader is led to expect from the book. On page 207, the author writes:"And even though three years have passed and I have seen her regularly as always, that was the last real conversation we had." In those missing three years is a vital part of the real life that for some reason Witchel didn't share.As a daughter who was responsible for a mother with dementia, I wanted the substance of the book to be about the author's - and her mother's - struggle with the long good-bye of dementia/Alzheimers. In the world of entertainment there is a saying "Leave 'em wanting more," but I don't think that is what a book should do.
  • (4/5)
    A nice treat to read a memoir dealing with issues of dementia that allows us to see more than a glimpse of the person behind the fog of what used to be called senility. Not all dementias are Alzheimer Disease Related. Some, like Dr. Witchel's are cardio-vascularly induced. Not all memoirs of mothers suffering from various dementias are written so warmly and honestly. Kudos to Alex Witchel for remembering her mother as a warm-blooded woman, not just a body carrying around mental illness. Familial relationships can be complicated, and I think Witchel struggled to be true to her experience.Not to mention new ideas for family dinners (but I think I may skip the Frankfurter Goulash)!!
  • (4/5)
    There is a scene somewhere in the middle of this book that I can't quite shake. The author is a teenager-frustrated with math homework, and stands up and makes a gesture at the skies as if to say, "I give up." The author's father mistakenly thinks his daughter is going to hit him and punches her in the face. She retreats to her room and her mother comes in and demands that she go apologize, "your father thought you were going to hit him first," she says.I recount the scene because it is shocking and because it illustrates a bit about what was off about this memoir. All Gone, a memoir ostensibly about Alex Witchel's mother's descent into depression and dementia, had this strange undercurrent of a story about her relationship with her father that was only hinted at and seemed the true story of this memoir.Ms Witchel clearly loves her mother beyond all measure and is devastated to watch her formerly strong, independent, educated mother fall into mental disarray. It is a very true story to which many of us can relate. Her writing is clear and unadorned and when she finally settles down to tell the story, during the last half of the book, it comes through quite sadly and clearly.But up until then the book seemed to be all over the place, a bit about childhood, a bit about nana, a bit about how she got to be a writer, some food writing, and little stories and anecdotes about her horrible relationship with her father.It felt not quite ready to be written. This is a complaint I have made frequently about memoirs, and I think this is a perfect example. At the time of this writing it appears that her mother and her father are still alive. The story feels like it is still in full swing to me and not over yet. It also explains why she may not have explored as much about her relationship with her father as she should have. The missing stories about him could fill another chapter or two.The author is a food writer by trade and includes food memories and recipes throughout which I always love. I am definitely going to try her potato latkes.
  • (5/5)
    What a difficult task it must be to not only confront a loved one's illness but to share it with the world. People attempt to do it all the time but Witchel truly succeeds. Her writing is filled with tragic honesty and humor. In an effort to illustrate just how dementia has changed her mother's personality and the dynamics of the mother-child relationship Witchel dips into her childhood. Using recipes from her past Witchel uses food to bridge the gap between a healthy mother and the disease that has stolen her. It is difficult to watch a seemingly healthy person disappear before your very eyes and that is what happens to Witchel's mother. Going from professor to patient was not an easy transition for her.In addition to the stress of an ailing parent Witchel confronts being the only sibling to step up and deal with the sad situation. Everyone is tied to their own family responsibilities and thinks Witchel is the logical caregiver. The attitude is, what else has she to do? Many people will be able to relate to Witchel's predicament. Even more so, fans of her writing for The New York Times will embrace her poignant memoir enthusiastically.
  • (4/5)
    Alex Witchel is a very good writer (she writes for the New York Times) whose parents seemed very difficult, if not unpleasant (especially her father), and I was happy to learn she's married to Frank Rich now. This book, ostensibly about her mother's dementia, was very readable and enjoyable but I'm having a hard time reviewing it because it seemed like many books run together in a too-short memoir. Here are the books: 1) her own early years; 2) family backgrounds of her parents; 3) her later life, including meeting and marrying Rich; 4) mini-biographies of each parent; 5) her mother's dementia; 6) her mother's recipes, and her own experiences making them. All of this in a 200 page book.I loved all 6 themes, but the structure, which skipped around among all 6, and the lack of space devoted to each, was frustrating.