Another short read and one which was very timely for me personally. I work with children in orphanages and my contacts with the over 70s are few and far between. This was a really good eye opener for me how the descent into senility starts and once started how quickly it descends till you actually hit rock bottom.
Very sensitively written the story revolves around Selma a woman whose husband has died after a fifty year marriage partnership, her daughter Dagmar who is obssessed with cleanliness being oblivious to anything around her and the grand daughter Amelia very fond of the grandmother who brought her up but at the same time caught between a rock and a hard place when the actual practicalities of having a senile, incontinent person around all the time are brought to the fore. At the same time Amelia knows that her grandmother just wants to live and die peacefully in her own home (now sold over her head by her son) and she is in an institution for the elderly. How to make her wish come true and take her back to her old home for just the Christmas holiday is the highlight of the book and how Amelia succeeds in this is very touching (though scary!).
The difficulties of old age - all your achievements whilst being younger just fade in the face of being elderly, the immobility, the restrictions of illness brought on by forgetfulness and then one is faced with the fact that the youthful and useful part of one's life is very fleeting because this is an age where old age and feebleness is scorned and it is a question of survival of the fittest and finest and all what you were is just stories of the past. It is the now that is important.
This book may be not everyone's choice of a good read but it was for me. The feeling of empathy and warmth towards an ailing, difficult person is never easy and Amelia was able to be so despite her inner feelings of anger and sadness that life has come to this at the end - knowing that her own life is being put on hold in order to deal with such a cantankerous old woman is never ever going to be easy but Amelia does it.