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Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? A Memoir

by Roz Chast

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1,64111910,704 (4.3)276
"In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the "crazy closet"--with predictable results--the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed. While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies--an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades--the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care" --… (more)
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» See also 276 mentions

English (118)  French (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
I've already been through this process with my parents. My father died of lung cancer in his early seventies and most of his caregiving fell on my mother. Then, ten years later, after living on her own alone all that time, her health and mental state began to fail. She took a trip to see me and when she got off the plane, she could walk through the airport, but by the time she left she couldn't lift her leg up onto the curb. She was hallucinating small things, "oh did you see that cat cross the road?" and arguing about things like, "Obama started the war in Afghanistan."

I was putting her on a plane to my brother for my niece's graduation. She took a turn and ended up in the hospital with a bladder infection. We ended up putting her in a memory care senior home near my brother as we realized that her mind was going and her neighbors told us she had lived on her own for too long. I took a job based out of SoCal which allowed me to come down and visit once a month, but the majority of care was on my brother who faithfully took her out once a week for ice cream or nail appointments. She was angry at us because she wanted to go home. She would kick her walker into other patients she thought were stealing from her. She would eat the box of See's Candy and then claim that someone else stole them. She lost her bowels on the way to the bathroom at Outback. Her health continued to decline as did her quality of life until she died. The whole process was heartbreaking. It was only after my Mom died that I could process and remember her for the strong and wonderful mother she had been for most of my life.

No one can tell you what to expect or how to navigate this. This memoir by Roz Chast comes very close to giving you a heads-up. One thing she talks about in the book, which we also found invaluable, is hiring an attorney who deals with elder care. They helped us navigate her finances, her care, etc. They had people on staff who regularly toured the local senior places and could tell us which would be the best for her.

Would I recommend this to my friend whose parents are starting to fail but are still in reasonably good shape to let them know what they can expect? Oh, boy. Maybe.

Would I recommend someone who is in the process of going through this with a parent? Yes. You are not alone. And this is terrible.

Chast is open and unflinching. This is a heartbreaking book about a process that most of us must go through. ( )
  auldhouse | Feb 17, 2024 |
A perfect, hilarious, heart-wrenching graphic memoir, recommended to all humans. ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
The illustrations were colorful and fun, but the subject matter was sort of depressing. It was a good illustrated memoir with moments of humor. The subject of death can be unsettling for a lot of people, including me, but Roz Chast tackled the subject in a way that combined all the caring and humorous moments with the sad and stressful moments. ( )
  wallace2012 | Nov 4, 2023 |
It might be that when you are familiar with years of someone's cartoons, you know them better than an author you've read. And when they write a memoir and illustrate it with their cartoons, you get an unusually honest, penetrating, disturbing and funny look at them and yourself. The author is about my age and her story is even more moving because it is so much like my own. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
These observations and musings are "spot-on!" ( )
  Kimberlyhi | Apr 15, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
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To my parents, George and Elizabeth
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So...do you guys ever think about...things?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the "crazy closet"--with predictable results--the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed. While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies--an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades--the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care" --

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