All Things Consoled A Daughter's Memoir ePUB ´

10 thoughts on “All Things Consoled A Daughter's Memoir

  1. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Beautiful truthful heartfelt memoir about Elizabeth's aging parentsElizabeth's brimful relationship at times her parents illness dementia retirement home financial realtiesand ultimately loveThe last chapters were especially moving

  2. Canadian Reader Canadian Reader says:

    “acts of love are never uncomplicated” Acclaimed Canadian novelist Elizabeth Hay has produced a beautifully written and affecting memoir about her parents’ last years In 2008 when Hay’s narrative opens the frail couple are in their late eighties and living in London Ontario a mid sized city in the southwest of the province some seven hours’ drive from the author’s Ottawa home Gordon Elizabeth’s father had been an ambitious secondary school teacher of history and then a high school principal He had worked hard to advance his career ultimately becoming a professor of education at the local university A frightening gloomy figure volcanic in temperament he would erupt with fury when disobeyed once throwing his young son hard enough across the dining room for the boy to reuire stitches He would later feel deeply ashamed by his loss of control but sadly incapable of apology Jean Stevenson Hay Elizabeth’s mother was born in the Ottawa Valley in 1919 the same year as her husband and had apparently trained as a nurse before marrying and bearing four children—Elizabeth being the third Jean ultimately turned to art making adventurous journeys in her sixties to Canada’s far north in order to explore and sketch the terrain of Ellesmere Island alongside scientists This was a time when grants were available for artists to travel to the Canadian Arctic Throughout her married life Jean worked steadily to counterbalance her husband’s dark energy attempting to bring light into the home Having a painter’s studio built just off the side of their house when she was 65 no doubt allowed her the physical space for her creativity to flourish and her psychological health to be preservedBy the end of January 2009 after her mother had undergone two knee surgeries due to a streptococcal lung infection that had spread through the blood Hay had arranged for Gordon and Jean to live at a retirement home in Ottawa just a short walk from her house The move would allow Elizabeth to visit them daily and tend to their needs Hay documents the physical and cognitive decline of both parents as well as many painful memories from the past A particularly sad anecdote concerns Hay’s father’s failure to acknowledge his daughter’s literary achievements When it came time to winnow down his personal library before vacating the London house Gordon left behind his daughter’s seven novels personally inscribed to her parents Growing up and even in adulthood Hay’s relationship with both parents was fraught All three of them were touchy defensive easily set off Hay feared and even hated her disapproving and fury prone father and she harboured anger towards her mother who had been so committed to keeping the peace that she did not defend or protect her daughter Hay is frank about her motivation for taking on the care of her parents as they neared their end it was due to a kind of competitiveness a desire to be loved the best of the four childrenThis memoir makes clear that old age can be terrifying gruelling and heartbreaking—not just for those who endure the ravages directly the elderly themselves but for the family members who are there for the duration In their final years and months Hay’s parents often expressed the wish that it could all just end uickly—with the help of a pill In spite of all that is so difficult as loved ones’ lives wind down there can be moments of beauty and love There can be opportunities to better understand family members and to appreciate the essential vulnerability of all—even those who have frightened us Hay writes about some of these moments and about how she came to understand just how deeply her parents’ lives had been woven togetherHay’s father died in 2011; her mother in 2012 A small photograph of the two together provides a touching and humble conclusion to an interesting and moving narrative

  3. Krista Krista says:

    I was in dangerous personal territory in fraught border country in which my parents were sliding into neediness and I was rising in power yet losing my own life All Things Consoled is esteemed Canadian novelist Elizabeth Hay's account of taking on the role as her parents' primary family contact as they reached their final years Complicating this always demanding function is the difficult relationship that Hay had with her parents and as she recounts incidents from throughout her life to illustrate lingering resentments or character uirks Hay deftly assembles a work that serves as a moving memoir of herself and her family On the one hand Hay does a nice job of capturing the challenges of the lingering end of life years in which both of her suffering parents wished for “the Dutch passport” and on the other I was glad to see that she had enough time with both of them to come to a place of peace and forgiveness With Hay's thoughtful and polished prose this was a satisfying read; a fascinating and fitting tribute to complex people At the lake inside the dark cabin that was steeped in my parents' lives I felt permeated by their presence even though they were absent That a peaceful place should be so full of tension that their influence should be so potent that I could not prevent myself from taking on certain of their characteristics and that these same characteristics expanded inside me until I was bloated with impatience hard with gassy vile severity Hay's father Gordon was an educator – he went from teacher to principal to professor over his career – and despite having been raised a peace loving uaker he had a hair trigger and could snap violently with both his students and his own children Hay's mother Jean was a penny pinching homemaker not above serving moldy or wormy food who discovered painting in middle age and who always took her husband's side over her children Not only did Elizabeth resent that her mother refused to see how much her father's constant teasing and painful finger jabs bothered her “He's only ribbing you lighten up” but Jean could never see how her own often unvoiced but suspected criticism burdened her daughter; Hay did a wonderful job of illustrating the lifelong family dynamics that were looming over this relationship as she finally convinced her parents to leave the family home and move into care a six minute walk from her own house in another city How hurtful must it have been for Elizabeth to discover that among the possessions that her parents left behind for disposal were her own seven novels all personally inscribed to the parents who never once told her they were proud of her? When a friend once asked Hay's father if he was proud of what his daughter has accomplished he testily responded “Well is she proud of me?” Her mother buried one of her novels in the yard out of shameThe issue that finally forced the relocation was Hay's mother's descent into dementia and at the same time her father's physical inability to deal with his wife's declining mental and physical states As a lover of words and phrasing Hay delighted in and collected her mother's increasingly peculiar ways of expressing herself concluding “Her turns of phrase rather confirmed my view that poetry issues from the holes in our heads that whatever faculty produces the startling contractions and coinages and leaps in logic that we call poetry is also available at an unconscious and uncontrollable level to someone suffering from dementia” Now as my own mother in law has Alzheimer's without ever once coming out with a poetic construction perhaps Jean's words came from the same creative spring as her painting talent rather than pointing to something universal as Hay suggests but it was this mental uirk that led to the book's title I got her to sit on the chesterfield and sat down beside her and put my arms around her again and she was like an ancient child weeping – lost and weeping “Where am I?”I told her where she was “Where did you think you were?”“Oh I'm in many places Where I am keeps changing”We walked to the elevator and she said “I've got some of my wits But not all”And then there was the day she said “I've had a good life all things consoled” Hay is honest about her own bitterness and the longheld resentments that she refused to let go of and she doesn't whitewash how taxing these final years with her parents nearby were for her As her three siblings all lived far away convincing her parents to move to Ottawa did invite the burden suarely onto her own shoulders but as Hay writes “Yes I volunteered to take it on but there was never a moment when I didn't wish to be let off the hook” And that's something important for me to remember as my kind hearted sister in law has taken on the care of her parents – including the Mom with Alzheimer's – within a shared home Yet still there was an opportunity for a melting of the icewaters Hay eventually discovered that just starting off a visit with a kiss to her father's bald head was enough to soften him as though all he ever wanted was forgiveness for his failings Even so as Gordon lay dying and Hay's brother leaned in to assure him that the kids would take good care of Mom when he was gone their father roared back to life with “But what about me?” Ultimately because of their time together in those last years Hay developed a stronger relationship with each of her parents and grew to appreciate what they meant to each other Will I go to my grave thinking my mother should have married another man? Someone attuned to the creative life who could have cooked for himself and put in his own eye drops? Who didn't fly off the handle at the drop of a hat? Not any Not after seeing how woven into each other body and soul the two of them were What must have been a therapeutic experience for Elizabeth Hay to write makes for an engaging and enlightening read; I am enlarged by having read her story

  4. Brandon Forsyth Brandon Forsyth says:

    Emotionally devastating Elizabeth Hay writes with unflinching honesty and lyrical beauty This book feels like a gift

  5. E E says:

    Heart breaking personal authentic raw not an Alzheimer's book or how to guide a story of one family yet a story of every family Will make you think differently about parenting our parents and how you might handle being parented by your children in the future or making choices not to bevery real and timely conversation starter for our generation People are living so much longer than in our grandparent's generation changes the playing field In my mother's fairly small home there are 7 residents over 100And the writing is beautiful the kind that flows and paints gorgeous pictures

  6. Lori Bamber Lori Bamber says:

    What a remarkable book Elizabeth Hay is a brilliant beautiful effective writer Here she takes on the most difficult subject of all the adult child and her parents in decline Agonizing So honest it is sometimes off putting freeing us all from the constraints imposed by presenting only our polite and polished selves the one that is too sweet to be really human If I was a Pulitzer judge this would get my vote It has the potential to change the way we see families and ourselves And while it can be harsh to read the end result is kind we are all broken stumbling toward happiness loving as much as we can in our broken way

  7. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    so good elizabeth hay tells a difficult story with grace while this memoir will be relatable for anyone with aging parents and grandparents who are dealing with declining bodies and minds hay also includes some wonderful insights and observations around end of life care family dynamics and family history

  8. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    “Ancient Romans used to distinguish between senectus still lively and decrepitus done for” from Akin by Emma Donoghue In this memoir about her relationship with her parents specifically about their last few years Hay speaks plainly of her belief that they lived too long a sentiment they would also have echoed Their final years were marked by illness depression and her mother’s dementia; it was all so difficult and expensive Gordon and Jean Hay stumbled into their early nineties in an Ottawa retirement home they’d moved into in early 2009 so they could be just down the road from their daughter after 40 years living in London Ontario The last straw had been her mother’s knee surgery and infection after which her mind was never the same and she couldn’t return to her paintingElizabeth Hay is one of four children but caregiving fell to her for one reason and another and it was bound to be a fraught task because of her parents’ prickly personalities Her mother could be cheerful but also had a history of being critical – and thrifty to the point of absurdity cooking a soup mix though it had worms in it spooning thick mold off apple sauce and serving it needling Elizabeth for dumping perfectly good chicken juice a year ago Her father meanwhile had a terrible temper and a history of corporal punishment of his children and of his students when he was a school principal When they packed for the move to Ottawa he didn’t take his own daughter’s novels Now that just seems like spiteThere are many such harsh moments in this memoir but almost as many wry ones with Hay picking just the right anecdotes to illustrate her parents’ behavior and the shifting family dynamic There’s a lemon meringue pie that’s particularly memorable towards the book’s end And Hay never looks away no matter how hard it all gets Her father’s rage against the dying of the light “What about me? Nincompoop I’m going to live And the rest of you are going to hell” contrasts with her mother’s fade into confusion – which was lightened by the surprisingly poetic turns of phrase she came out with despite her aphasia The title phrase for instance was her attempt at “all things considered” I wholeheartedly recommend this to readers of Hay’s novels but anyone can appreciate the picture of complicated love and grief

  9. Laurie • The Baking Bookworm Laurie • The Baking Bookworm says:

    35 STARS This was the first time I had read a book by Canadian author Elizabeth Hay In All Things Consoled she writes about her complicated relationship with her parents growing up as well as the changing dynamic between herself and her parents as they aged Hay's writing is frank especially when she discusses her turbulent childhood and the complicated relationship she had with her parents Through the ups and downs her love for her parents is the focus of the book and there are some emotional scenes There were some issues which were hard to read and others were emotional so readers who can relate to dealing with aging parents may want to keep the Kleenex handy I couldn't relate as much to Hay's experiences and that may have influenced my feelings for the book The vast majority of reviewers have raved about this book and while I feel odd rating someone's life experiences I didn't feel as connected to the book as I had hopedDisclaimer My sincere thanks to the publisher for my complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

  10. ❀ Susan G ❀ Susan G says:

    A tale of consolation love and coming to terms with the messiness of family as the author cares for her parents as they age Tissues are needed as Hay's says good bye to her parents and reflects on lifetimes of moments as their relationship changed as they aged and declined

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All Things Consoled A Daughter's Memoir Elizabeth Hay one of Canada's most beloved novelists has written a poignant complex and hugely resonant memoir about the shift she experienced between being her parents' daughter to their guardian and caregiverAs the daughter takes charge and the writer takes notes her mother and father are like two legendary icebergs floating south They melt into the ocean of partial painful inconsistent and funny stories that a family makes over time Hay's elouent memoir distills these stories into basic truths about parents and children and their efforts of understanding With her uncommon sharpness and wit Elizabeth Hay offers her insights into the peculiarities of her family's dynamics her parents' marriage sibling rivalries miscommunications that spur decades of resentment all matched by true and genuine love and devotion Her parents are each startling characters in their own right her mother is a true skinflint who would rather serve up wormy soup twice than throw away an ancient packet of perfectly good mix; her father is a proud and well mannered man with a temper that can be explosive All Things Consoled is a startlingly beautiful memoir that addresses the exuisite agony of family the unstoppable force of dementia and the inevitability of aging