Looking After: A Son's Memoir

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A poet and an essayist, John Daniel weaves graceful meditations on the nature of memory, identity, aging, and the tenacity of family into this moving account of his mothers last years. Uneasy in his role as caregiver, Daniel struggles with guilt, embarrassment, and anger over his mothers transformation. As she loses her memory to Alzheimers, he delves into his own in a passionate attempt to rememberfor her and for himselfthe remarkable history of their lives. Vagabond and spiritual seeker, wife and mother, and former labor organizer, Ziller Daniel led a full and varied life. But in the fall of 1988, troubled with the onset of Alzheimers she comes to Portland, Oregon to live with her son and his wife. Evolving slowly into the unfamiliar, she watches dogwood leaves outside the kitchen window, reads poetry, asks and re-asks the names of birds.Uneasy in his role as caregiver, and coping with his own depression, John Daniel struggles with guilt, embarrassment, and anger over his mothers transformation. As she loses her memory, Daniel delves into his own, uncovering both the root of his depression and the medicine for its cure in fragmented, long-dormant recollections of his childhood and youth.Mother and son journey through difficult and mysterious terrain, divining a path to each other and the world around them. Whatever she recognized, whatever she perceived, whatever she sensed, she faced the good world she had loved and now was becoming again. The world flowed in through her window, flowed into her open eyes whatever they saw, even as she flowed forth to join the world from the personhood of her many days.Combining graceful prose with the tenacity of a lifelong seeker, John Daniel pays tribute to the life of a remarkable woman and depicts the burdens and unexpected blessings of caring for her. In the midst of daily tension and occasional despair Daniel comprehendsthen shares with usZillas deep smile of the spirit.