Caring for the Most Precious of All – Mother!
Written by Bob Markin
Settle down in an easy chair, relax, with tissues in-hand, and travel so movingly with former professional hospice consultant and now author, Dr. Melanie Merriman, as she relates her journey of passionately caring over-the-years for her ailing Mother – that most precious person in her, and truly, in virtually anyone’s life. As you read Dr. Merriman’s book, Holding the Net – Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging – you can see why this memoir has garnered wide critical-acclaim and so much positive reader response. We can’t help but be engrossed as the author warmly draws us into her personal world of experiences and lessons learned, providing us with an authentic day-to-day narrative filled with examples of challenge, resolve, advise and hope, which readers might very well be able to apply to their own situations.
The book is practically for everyone, offering adults-of-all-ages and Mothers, relatives and friends, paramount advice on the ever-present trying situations which so many people eventually face as time and the years take their toll on a dear one’s well-being. Essentially, Merriman, together with her co-caregiver sister Barbara, are on a constant roller-coaster ride on their journey of care, trying to balance their Mother’s strong independence streak with her crucial need for personal safety. Successes are constantly followed by difficulties, as reality has to be faced by both Mother and sisters who come to realize each day anew, that what could be done yesterday, unfortunately, cannot be undertaken today.
Merriman’s journey contains so many practically-applicable pearls-of-wisdom covering the effects of aging on body-and-mind, living-arrangements for older people, making health-care decisions, navigating a stay in a nursing/rehab facility, etc. And it, thankfully, includes information on the progressive stages of dementia.
A small caveat – many of the author’s recommendations for helpful services and agencies are U.S.-based only, and Canadian readers will need to consult with local and regional care agencies and facilities, and of course, the always valued recommendations of friends.
And yes, despite the serious nature of the topic, Holding the Net is a pleasant, easy read, thanks largely to Merriman’s ‘first-person’ writing-style and the engaging technique she utilizes to convey her helpful points and recommendations. Basically, she lets us hear, via print, actual quotation-filled conversations, candidly and movingly relating to us a powerful story of her family.
Telling a ‘story’ always seems to capture our attention and involvement – much more so than when points are dryly made in an expository fashion. Merriman enables us to feel so privy to the trials-and-tribulations of her loving family which is making every effort it can to create something positive from a very difficult situation. Such trying circumstances can often be completely overwhelming, and this stimulating memoir tells us, subtly yet forcefully, that ‘everyone’ involved in the constant ups-and-downs of caregiving truly needs an advocate. The Mother, as the principal person involved, has dedicated advocate-caregivers in her daughters, who in turn, often find that they require support themselves, which they receive by compassionately serving as caregiver for each other.
If there is an overriding message in this extremely touching and uplifting book, it might be that a person who puts forth all of their efforts and energies in helping a loved one, should realize that their soul was noble in their resolve and dedication to help. Consequently, they should feel emphatically positive knowing that they’ve done the very best that they were able to do. Realistically, that’s all that anyone can do.
And a thought: Given how the topic of Mothers is so filled with emotion, which this wonderful book beautifully expands upon, maybe publisher Green Writers Press might consider selling this poignant memoir packaged – with tissues and a recording of the tear-inducing classic My Yiddishe Mama.
Unquestionably, a book to read thoroughly, savouring and applying its wisdom in caring for the ever-changing well-being of The Most Precious of All – Mother!