A family chronicles their patriarch’s dementia and the painful caregiving experience without flinching and with a lot of...




As dementia claims a Midwestern man’s mind, his wife and son record the experience in this memoir.

Dementia slowly crept into Donny Larson’s life. By the time he went hunting in 2005 with his friends and son, he was already battling forgetfulness and mood swings. After Donny got lost in the forest and his son found him shivering and soaked, the younger Larson, Mike, realized this would be the last hunt of his dad’s life, for everyone’s safety. The hunt story, which opens this debut work, serves as the perfect metaphor for the larger tale of Donny’s descent into dementia and the challenges, heartbreak and—occasionally—hope he and his family found in the experience. Initially, Donny’s Minnesotan family noticed him injuring himself and growing more forgetful, but they worked around it to keep him at home. However, after a violent episode in 2007, his wife struggled to find a nearby facility willing to take him, then she wrestled with practical issues as well as emotional ones—especially after Donny was eventually moved into the same facility where his own mentally unsound mother still lived. Donny’s wife and son write in sincere, frank tones, discussing with a surprising amount of openness topics such as incontinence, saving money for nursing home care, drugs, their Lutheran faith and the concept of “best care”—the realistic balance of care and sacrifice. The love and patience offered by Donny’s wife is evident on every page, and readers will empathize with her as her husband’s health declines. Likewise, her son’s combination of frustration, sadness and resignation is understandable, particularly when he mentions how he doesn’t mind caring for his kids since they will grow up and become independent, but his father “was never going to recover and his needs kept growing.” While this memoir might be an overwhelming read for someone starting out as a caregiver or fearful of their own diagnosis, middle-aged and older readers who’ve been down a similar path may find comfort in this homespun story.

A family chronicles their patriarch’s dementia and the painful caregiving experience without flinching and with a lot of heart.

Pub Date: Dec. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615563862

Page Count: 146

Publisher: Dad's Last Hunt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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