I don’t often write book reviews, especially here on my blog, but I felt compelled to write this one. “Senior Management” was written by a friend of mine, Martha Vowles. She is a talented writer with a deft sense of humour that, although the topic of the book isn’t humorous, she gently lightens the load periodically.
I started reading her book and was instantly addicted. Having been through a similar, but different, experience with first my adopted parents and then my birth mother, I related to every word Martha wrote.
Sometimes I roared with laughter; Martha you do have a way of showing the bizarre humour in what others might consider tragic moments. Those of us who’ve lived through them know and appreciate how crucial humour is to our own survival!
Other times I had to set the book aside as I wept, feeling the frustration, the muffled anger and concurrent guilt for feeling that anger.
I envied the fact that Martha had relatives, excellent caregivers and a supportive husband (yay Bill!) to help her through the ups and downs over so many years. I was an only child with an overbearing manchild for a spouse when I was going through it. My salvation was two good friends who pitched in when they could.
As I read the trials and tribulations associated with various “assisted living” (fast track to dying?) expensive homes and the difficulties faced when Martha’s stepmother, Joan, was ‘in between’ levels of care and needed an alternate arrangement, I thought ahead to my own aging (not as far away as I’d wish at this point) and it terrified me.
I remembered and again felt the build up of stress and fear of the sound of a phone ringing. Martha gently leads the reader through those ups and downs. Like her, I sensed that others were blaming me for my parents’ condition – even though intellectually I knew it wasn’t.
As Martha so beautifully illustrated in her book, things never happen in isolation. Shortly after Mum went into the hospital, the woman that owned the house, where my parents rented the ground floor flat, died. Her nephew inherited the property and decided that he was going to renovate it so Dad had to move out. He was traumatized.
Finding him an apartment where he could function and keep his cat wasn’t easy. Getting him moved and dunging through 50 years worth of stuff (or more) was a challenge.
While all of this was happening, my husband suffered a ruptured bowel, emergency surgery and a lengthy hospital stay. Life is never boring. No wonder we don’t get out alive.
Thank you, Martha, for an amazing book. Anyone who has experienced some or part of managing one’s aging parents will relate. Anyone who isn’t there yet should read the book as a cautionary tale. Those of us who are getting older and may impose on our children someday should start preparing!