Gabriel Bron’s compelling story of his journey caring for his aging parents sheds light on love, family connection, and self-discovery. While characterized as fiction with invented character and place names, it’s based on the real-life experiences of author Michael Rost, who uses a pen name here.
The story begins when Bron’s mother has a major memory lapse during her bridge game and is later diagnosed in the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Soon she becomes withdrawn, confused, and immobile, and is placed in a care facility. As the family’s designated storyteller, Bron draws on past experiences of their travels together and the lessons she taught him to ignite his mother’s memory.
Meanwhile, living alone begins to take its toll on Bron’s dad, married for 60-plus years. Through conversations about baseball, a visit to a now derelict bar/eatery once owned by Bron’s grandfather, witnessing his father’s intricate design for a wheelchair ramp in the hopes of his wife returning home, and more, Bron connects with his father and gains newfound knowledge about his family history. Sadly, Bron recognizes that his tough veteran dad is beginning to experience his own health decline.
Bron skillfully brings this story to life through a well-crafted combination of narrative, dialogue, memories, and dreams. As a linguist, he integrates the importance of language into the story, from his father’s affection for crosswords and phrases reflecting the family’s German heritage, to the stigma of losing one’s ability to communicate as thought processes and words become jumbled.
Each chapter is introduced with a raw, expressionistic image created by Bron. The darker color palette lends a somber note to this journey, while words within the images convey silent emotions. (For example, one image of Bron’s mother includes the words “help me!”).
For anyone dealing with aging parents, Bron’s story is a forthright look at what could lie ahead and a heartfelt portrait of the obstacles that can sometimes bring us closer to the elders we love.
Also available as an ebook and audio book.