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All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia.…
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All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. With Refreshments (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Alex Witchel

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8820137,094 (3.48)4
Member:kschloss
Title:All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. With Refreshments
Authors:Alex Witchel
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2012), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Early Reviewers, Read but unowned, Fiction
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. With Refreshments by Alex Witchel (2012)

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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. ( )
  homeschoolmimzi | Nov 28, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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. . . ( )
  catarina1 | Jan 31, 2016 |
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! ( )
  Jennifer35k | May 23, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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. ( )
  metermaid1 | Apr 25, 2014 |
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. ( )
  Beamis12 | Feb 13, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159448791X, Hardcover)

A daughter’s longing love letter to a mother who has slipped beyond reach.

Just past seventy, Alex Witchel’s smart, adoring, ultracapable mother began to exhibit undeniable signs of dementia. Her smart, adoring, ultracapable daughter reacted as she’d 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:21 -0400)

Just past 70, Witchel's smart, adoring, ultracapable mother began to exhibit undeniable signs of dementia. But as medical reality undid hope, Witchel retreated to the kitchen to come to terms with her predicament.

(summary from another edition)

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