Anyway, there was a statement midway through the book which caught my attention, since it brought to mind something that I've often thought about since my Dad died:
"When your parents die, you know, your audience is gone. You really have no one who cares about what you do. But I think somebody has to care about you - someone has to think you matter"
When my Dad died in 1999, I was already writing in my journal that it was the end of historical certainty for our family. I already knew that my Mother could not be relied upon to recall events from our childhood or even from the minute before. She was no longer a reliable Witness to our lives. I didn't yet understand the reason for that in those days, but I knew for sure that Truth had died with my Father. And for that I grieved. Now, of course, the situation is closer to what is described in the quotation above. Even though my Mother is still alive, she is not there to care, in any real sense, what I do. There is no point, indeed, in even telling her things that would only serve to confuse her. She's not even sure who I am, sometimes, unless the staff have been reminding her all morning that I'm on my way to see her. I visit her as I would her grave. *
There's also another pertinent remark, in the final pages, which I won't quote other than to say that it points out that a Carer can potentially make an expiation of their lot, assuaging some guilt through a situation which allows them to act selflessly. This idea hit home, hard. All along I've felt a degree of unreality about the way I've cared for Mum. My actions were outwardly those of a loving Son, but I felt cold inside and experienced a growing guilt about that disparity. It has slowly become easier for me as I've done more for Mum. Maybe I feel that I am a slightly better person for having done all this for her, or maybe I've just got better at presenting the facade and it's comfortable to hide behind it, a small mean unworthy thing rattling around inside a shell.
At some point, does it even matter any more what motivation, or lack of one, lies behind a caring action?
*[I'm shocked that I wrote that]