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All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. with Refreshmentsby Alex Witchel
Synopses & Reviews
A daughterand#8217;s longing love letter to aand#160;mother who has slipped beyond reach
Just past seventy, Alex Witcheland#8217;s smart, adoring,and#160;ultracapable mother began to exhibit undeniableand#160;signs of dementia. Her smart, adoring, ultracapableand#160;daughter reacted as sheand#8217;d been raised: If somethingand#160;was broken, they would fix it. But as medical realityand#160;undid that hope, and her mother continued the torturous process of disappearing in plain sight, Witchel retreated to the kitchen, trying to reclaim her motherand#160;at the stove by cooking the comforting foods of herand#160;childhood: and#147;Is there any contract tighter than a family recipe?and#8221;and#160;
Reproducing the perfect meat loaf was no panacea, but it helped Witchel come to terms with herand#160;predicament, the growing phenomenon of and#147;ambiguous loss and#8221;and#151; loss of a beloved one who lives on.and#160;Gradually she developed a deeper appreciation forand#160;all the ways the parent she was losing lived on in her,and#160;starting with the daily commandment and#147;Tell me everything that happened todayand#8221; that started a future reporter and writer on her way. And she was inspired toand#160;turn her experience into this frank, bittersweet, andand#160;surprisingly funny account that offers true balm forand#160;an increasingly familiar form of heartbreak.
"New York Times Magazine writer, columnist, and novelist Witchel saw her mother descend into uncharacteristic forgetfulness and lethargy in the mid-2000s, prompting the author's rueful, occasionally vitriolic rumination on childhood and familial relations. Growing up in Passaic, N.J., in a mostly nonreligious Jewish community, before moving to Scarsdale (at age 12) as her dad moved up at his Madison Avenue job, Witchel recalls an uneasy 'bomb-shelter mentality' pervading their house in the late 1950s and 1960s, a love affair with synthetic food products like Bac-Os that translated into comforting Jewish menus she still loves to cook and for which she offers recipes: meatloaf with cornflakes, frankfurter goulash, fried meat kreplach, and so on. Witchel adored her cerebral mother, who got her doctorate in psychology later in life, teaching for three-plus decades at Iona College, although she was often absent from home, earning the wrath of her husband, Witchel's father, whose criticism of his daughter's writing early on convinced her she had no talent. Witchel's close bond with her mother, described as evolving from helper to lawyer to bodyguard, meant Witchel was stricken personally by her mother's aging condition, receiving her forgetfulness as a personal failure and betrayal. Being the good daughter only went so far, and Witchel bares her distress frankly in this thin, taut contribution to the growing body of literature devoted to the toll of parent-care." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A daughters longing love letter to a mother who has slipped beyond reach
Just past seventy, Alex Witchels smart, adoring, ultracapable mother began to exhibit undeniable signs of dementia. Her smart, adoring, ultracapable daughter reacted as shed been raised: If something was broken, they would fix it. But as medical reality undid that hope, and her mother continued the torturous process of disappearing in plain sight, Witchel retreated to the kitchen, trying to reclaim her mother at the stove by cooking the comforting foods of her childhood: Is there any contract tighter than a family recipe?”
Reproducing the perfect meat loaf was no panacea, but it helped Witchel come to terms with her predicament, the growing phenomenon of ambiguous loss ”— loss of a beloved one who lives on. Gradually she developed a deeper appreciation for all the ways the parent she was losing lived on in her, starting with the daily commandment Tell me everything that happened today” that started a future reporter and writer on her way. And she was inspired to turn her experience into this frank, bittersweet, and surprisingly funny account that offers true balm for an increasingly familiar form of heartbreak.
About the Author
Alex Witchel is a�staff writer for The New York�Times Magazine and�originated�the popular "Feed Me" column�for the Dining section. The author of three previous books,�she has also written for New York, Vogue, Elle, and�Ladies' Home Journal, among other publications.�She lives in New York with her husband, Frank Rich.
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