"If you don't like dark humor, you don't want to read this book," Spokane author Gail Goeller declared at a recent Auntie's Bookstore reading. Coming of Age With Aging Parents: The Bungles, Battles and Blessings is Goeller's personal, poignant and surprisingly humorous account of the years she and her husband John spent caring for their elderly relatives.
The recently reissued, expanded 2015 edition (first published in 2004), contains fresh content and new chapters that chronicle John's own battle and eventual demise from Alzheimer's, along with Goeller's struggle to adjust to widowhood.
Each section of the book chronicles elder-care dilemmas that will have you nodding in agreement, laughing out loud and wiping tears from your eyes. Chapters include resources, caregiver questionnaires and coping strategies.
In one of the darkest yet funniest chapters, "Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Grandma's Stuck in the Tub," Goeller describes when her 92-year-old grandmother, too weak to lift herself, had to spend 34 hours in lukewarm water until a neighbor noticed her newspapers lying on the porch and called 911. As paramedics wheeled puckered Grandma to the ambulance, they noticed she'd scrawled "At least I got out clean" on the tiles in soap.
Our aging parents — and our aging selves — are subjects most of us avoid like poison ivy. Coming of Age takes us by the shoulders, points us toward the inevitable, and assures us that, really, it will all be OK.
Available at Auntie's and on Amazon.com