We never said we were the Waltons,"" Rubin remarks of her dauntingly ill Mom and Dad, her childish 35-year-old sister Alice, and herself--a born martyr at age 43. Caring-is-difficult is the message of her account of family strains--and reconciliations--under duress; and in extrapolating from her diary, she doesn't spare herself. On September 18, 1978, Rubin's mother started chemotherapy for one of those cancers that never seems to subside yet never seems to spread far; the same day, her father had a stroke. Here, she details what it was like to haul them in and out of hospitals, to and from their apartment, and to ""dying"" therapists; altogether, to cook and shop and care for them while neglecting her own husband and two sons. She also catalogues an emotional life that, as she puts it, makes her the ""Queen of Yo-Yos""--the swings from don't-let-them-die, to when-the-hell-are-they-going-to-die, and back. As Rubin herself notes, she had more resources (financial and otherwise) than many persons in her predicament--and she often rejected options that would have freed her temporarily from the burden. Her rejection of those options, her yearning for ""fun,"" and her impatience with (say) her mother's ""Slavic Princess"" routine may put off some readers. Others similarly afflicted with selfishness and guilt may, on the contrary, welcome her confession.