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"Watching my mother for the past few years has been a lot like watching a blindfolded lady ride a unicycle on a tightrope."
Sometimes, all you can do is laugh. Federico was happily ensconced in Nova Scotia when the fateful call came from Florida. Her mother, Addie, had fallen and was taken to the hospital. On the spot, Addie's husband, Walter, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Suddenly, any hope of the elderly couple living out their days in peaceful bliss was dashed.
Leaving her husband and kids, Federico flies south, with the goal of settling Addie and Walter back in their New Jersey home. Hiring a bevy of home health care aides and therapists, she negotiates both cost and care schedules with her siblings, naïvely believing she can now resume her life. Repeatedly she is called back to New Jersey to find the refrigerator empty, the house a mess, jewelry missing, Addie bruised, Walter shouting, and both of them increasingly more confused.
The "Departure Lounge" is the name Federico applies to Addie and Walter's home, but to where? The reader is free to decide: Death? Insanity? Surrender? As Federico well knows, when you enter the Departure Lounge, it's best just to hang on and try to enjoy the ride.
(Spring 2009 Selection)
In this frank account, by turns sad and terribly funny, the journalist Federico describes how her distant, patrician octogenarian mother, Addie, grew batty and vulnerable. Federico, the youngest of Addie's five children, rearranged her life with her own family in Nova Scotia to fly back and forth over the course of several years to Oldhill, N.J., to assist, along with her brother William, her mother and her mother's Alzheimer's-addled second husband, Walter. Recently married (Addie's first husband, the author's father, died of a heart attack years before), the couple drank heavily, complicating Walter's tendency to become abusive and Addie's physical frailty and bad eyesight. Finally, constant home care was required for the couple, necessitating the hiring of a team of revolving, frequently in-fighting workers, some truly caring, others downright crooked. The house became a disaster zone, christened the Departure Lounge, where the inhabitants erupted in loony non sequiturs and erratic behavior. Addie would put on all her jewelry and sing show tunes (until the jewelry mysteriously disappeared); Walter began receiving sex toys in the mail; and a trip to the bank resulted in $1,600 in dollar bills flying out of the limo window on the way home. Federico gently delineates the humiliating burden caused by the loss of memory, while humanely portraying a brave new sympathy and understanding between her mother and herself. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When her 81-year-old mother suddenly descended into dementia, humor writer Federico flew 1000 miles away from her family and her job, thinking she'd help for a short time until her mother settled in with the aides. Things didn't turn out to be that simple. This book attempts to bring humor to the undeniably burdensome (yet often deeply rewarding) experienceof caring for one's aging parents, but it quickly descends into camp, with caricatured descriptions that make empathy difficult.
Canadian humorist Federico debuts with a frank account of managing the home care of her aging mother, Addie, and Addie's recently acquired second husband, Walter. When living on their own in West Palm Beach was no longer an option for the ailing couple, Federico and her brother put them on a private plane to New Jersey. A nursing home did not work out, so home care, provided by a large and rotating team of aides, became the solution. For two years, the author shuttled between her home in Nova Scotia and her mother's home, the "Departure Lounge," as crisis after crisis demanded her attention. Federico, who has the eye of a sitcom writer, views her mother with a mixture of love, humor, sympathy and exasperation. There's a sharper touch to her description of Alzheimer's-addled Walter, who was alternately adoring and abusive toward Addie, who was frail, nearly blind and prone to falling down. The aides, numbering as many as 15 at one time, were a mixed bag-some honest and caring, others unreliable, and at least one a jewel thief. A heavy drinker, Walter bought Scotch by the case, ordered sex toys by mail and often didn't recognize himself in the mirror. Addie planned an 82nd birthday bash but forgot to invite guests. There are dozens of such episodes, many ready-made for the screen: a chaotic outing by limo to New York for Addie to get her hair done at Elizabeth Arden's; a second trip to Fifth Avenue for Addie to replace her missing jewelry; a bank visit that ended with hundreds of dollar bills flying out the car window. Federico includes enough details of her mother's earlier life to show her lamentable progression from perfectly groomed, wealthy, socially adept wife and mother toincontinent old woman dependent on hired help and dressed in mismatched clothes. A funny yet touching portrayal of the indignities of aging. Agent: Carolyn Swayze/Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency
“Meg Federico has written a deeply moving, hilarious, and unforgettable manifesto on mothering her mother, as Addie takes center stage in the finale of her life. Book clubs will rally around this one–for the laughs, for the sheer honesty, and for the lively discussions that will ensue. Federico has woven the details of her experience, sometimes tragic and always transcendent, into a memoir you will not be able to put down. This is a mother-daughter love story, with an ending that sparkles like the finest diamond.”
–Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series and Very Valentine
“Dealing with her aging mother and stepfather is not fun, but in Federico’s deft hands, it’s poignant, terrifying, and very funny.”
–Phyllis Theroux, author of California and Other States of Grace
“[A] frank account, by turns sad and terribly funny . . . Federico gently delineates the humiliating burden caused by the loss of memory, while humanely portraying a brave new sympathy and understanding between her mother and herself.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“What Meg Federico thinks of as her parents’ spiraling out of control is sort of normal behavior in the South. That’s why I loved this book so much–it’s wise and hilarious, and, no matter where you live, you’ll get something out of it, especially if you have aged parents.”
–Gayden Metcalfe, co-author of Being Dead Is No Excuse
“Federico, who has the eye of a sitcom writer, views her mother with a mixture of love, humor, sympathy and exasperation. . . . A funny yet touching portrayal of the indignities of aging.”