Ladies Out Loud Reading Café
Book Review: Feeding My Mother
Author: Jann Arden
Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as my Mom Lives with Memory Loss!
In Feeding My Mother, beloved singer and performer Jann Arden shares what it is like for a daughter to become her mother’s caregiver – in her own frank and funny words, in photos, and in recipes she invented for her mom in her own kitchen.
You have to admire Jann Arden for showing her vulnerability in her newest book Feeding My Mother. By writing the book and blogs, Jann has given us a glimpse into her life and that of her families. She shares her deepest thoughts; and still manages to laugh. The book is about caring for her aging and ailing parents Derrel (now deceased) and mother Joan Richards who has Alzheimer’s. After her father passes she finds herself cooking more often for her mum and enjoying the time they share in the kitchen.
This book is like finding someone’s diary in a dusty old box in the attic. You sit down and start to read the private and personal thoughts of someone who you feel you already know. You just want to keep reading and reading, as it is so raw and real. It is sad, deep and sometimes spiritual with added humour typical of Jann Arden, all rolled up together. The book is written in a compassionate yet matter of fact style that confirms shit happens to the best of us.
Jann Arden is an open book, flaws an’ all. Her frank and honest interpretation of life in general and as a carer is inspiring. Her words tell us that she loves her parents, they sometimes frustrate the hell out of her and although it is hard and an emotional rollercoaster, there is gratitude for the opportunity to care for them.
The book creates a vision of a cohesive family that can be somewhat dysfunctional at times…typical of most families. Janns mum comes across as the one who kept things together, taking the good with the bad and just getting on with life as a gracious participant. Also included in the book are 22 recipes that Jann cooks for her mother. That is the whole premise of the book… the comfort in cooking for and eating with her mother. It’s therapeutic and something that both mother and daughter feed off, one I’m sure Jann will cherish long after her mum is gone.
The simplest things in life, especially time with loved ones is worth more than gold itself.
We are cared for by our parents from the day we are born. More often than not that role is reversed and we become the carers for our parents. The cycle of life as it is, reversed. One paragraph that stands out related to this is when Jann takes her mother on a German river cruise. Every day Jann sets out her mums clothes and one morning mum tells Jann the socks don’t match the outfit. They have a short debate over this mismatch and mum turns to Jann and says, “It’s hard being a mother, isn’t it?”
Another paragraph that I think is very relevant to share is… Jann has to remind herself to stop correcting her mum. “I have to stop being the memory police, stop needing to be right all the time. It’s exhausting and completely selfish.” Just go with the flow of the conversation.
What I like most about Jann Arden is that she shares her thoughts, her frustrations, fears, guilt and love in a way that we can all relate to, showing that she is human just like the rest of us. She is a lady I’d love to sit and chat with over a cup of tea.
I am no expert on Alzheimer’s or dementia but have cared for seniors when I worked as an auxiliary nurse back in Scotland and most recently at arms length in a seniors home in Airdrie. I have seen patients who seem happy in a little world of their own. I have witnessed the loss, the heartache and the suffering one goes through with early onset dementia to full-blown Alzheimer’s. I can’t begin to know how families feel but to witness the sadness wash over a family members face when a loved one doesn’t know who they are is the saddest thing ever. It must be heartbreaking to watch your parent or partner slip into an unrecognizable character. This character isn’t our loved ones… this is the disease called Alzheimer’s that slowly takes them away from us; a sad reality for many families.
June 29, 2018 Stats
The number of Canadians with dementia is rising sharply. As of June 29, 2018, there are over half a million Canadians living with dementia - plus about 25,000 new cases diagnosed every year. By 2031, that number is expected to rise to 937,000, an increase of 66 per cent.