Author George Hodgman moved back home to tiny Paris, Missouri, in 2011 where he grew up as an only child to care for his 90-year-old widowed mother, Betty. He describes himself as an unlikely guardian, that his and Betty’s lives were lived on different planets. Her independence is now at stake, her home. She struggles against needing assistance and George finds that he cannot bring himself to take her away from the house that his father built. So he stays.
So much goes on in any given day’s routine. Betty still plays bridge with her friends and plays the piano at church but irrational arguments erupt over shoes and forgetfulness becomes more frequent. George finds humor is often the best way to deal with this and the role reversal of a child now caring for a parent.
After graduating college, George lived a lifestyle that he knew his parents could not understand. His homosexuality was an issue they avoided because of the way they had been raised to think about people like him. In this story, there is a great deal of contemplation about life, memories, how events turned out, how people treat each other, and how you can trip yourself up and get into trouble – recovery hurts. Families are complex, living things that constantly change but if done right, one constant is love and that is what Betty gave him.
Many readers will be able to relate to the issues George and his mother face in this memoir written with kindness and candor. Other readers may find some of the topics eye-opening as told from George’s point of view.