Teaching My Baby To Read

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For the Sandwich Generation

Today was a very deep day.

First, my children and I visited an elderly relative who lives in Merrill Gardens. Every time I have visited Merrill Gardens I have been highly impressed by the cleanliness and care the residents receive there. But then I came home and read Special Exits and started worrying.

Joyce Farmer’s Graphic memoir made me almost sick to my stomach. (But I mean that as a compliment.) It deals with ageing, elder abuse, care of the dying, and dignity in death. The realism in this book is gut wrenching. At the same time, there is a small thread of comfort, as if you are talking to a friend.

Farmer sets the book in the early 1990s, around the time of the Rodney King riots. Twenty years ago means this is a setting before people had ready access to the internet. I can only hope that Google, YouTube, and Facebook are making a small difference in the care people receive in convalescent hospitals today. If one of my loved ones received a bed sore down to the bone, I would make sure that the entire universe knew about it.

I hope that writing this memoir helped give Ms. Farmer some healing in regards to her parents’ last four years. I was crying right along with her, because the pain was so real.

By pure coincidence however, I had also checked out a picture book from the library for my kids on the same subject!

Getting to Know Ruben Plotnic by Roz Rosenbluth is about how a young boy feels having his Grandmother Rosie live with his family at home, even though she is dealing with severe dementia. This story had a much happier ending, even though illustrator Maurie J. Manning did an amazing job painting visible pain on the parents’ faces. My three year old may not have noticed, but I did.

After reading both books in the same day I was really shaken. (Enough so that it seemed worthy of a blog post.) There are a lot of childhood memories floating around in my mind right now that I won’t share. But I would like both authors to know that I think their work is brilliant.


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