Canadian humorist Federico debuts with a frank account of managing the home care of her aging mother, Addie, and Addie’s recently acquired second husband, Walter.
When living on their own in West Palm Beach was no longer an option for the ailing couple, Federico and her brother put them on a private plane to New Jersey. A nursing home did not work out, so home care, provided by a large and rotating team of aides, became the solution. For two years, the author shuttled between her home in Nova Scotia and her mother’s home, the “Departure Lounge,” as crisis after crisis demanded her attention. Federico, who has the eye of a sitcom writer, views her mother with a mixture of love, humor, sympathy and exasperation. There’s a sharper touch to her description of Alzheimer’s-addled Walter, who was alternately adoring and abusive toward Addie, who was frail, nearly blind and prone to falling down. The aides, numbering as many as 15 at one time, were a mixed bag—some honest and caring, others unreliable, and at least one a jewel thief. A heavy drinker, Walter bought Scotch by the case, ordered sex toys by mail and often didn’t recognize himself in the mirror. Addie planned an 82nd birthday bash but forgot to invite guests. There are dozens of such episodes, many ready-made for the screen: a chaotic outing by limo to New York for Addie to get her hair done at Elizabeth Arden’s; a second trip to Fifth Avenue for Addie to replace her missing jewelry; a bank visit that ended with hundreds of dollar bills flying out the car window. Federico includes enough details of her mother’s earlier life to show her lamentable progression from perfectly groomed, wealthy, socially adept wife and mother to incontinent old woman dependent on hired help and dressed in mismatched clothes.
A funny yet touching portrayal of the indignities of aging.