Every memoir offers something different for the reader. Some intend to describe a personal history, to entertain the reader, to teach the reader, and/or to give the reader a glimpse into war, an addiction, a tragedy, an abusive situation, or an illness. Jan Simpson’s (Benvenuti’s) memoir Don’t Give Up on Me! Supporting Aging Parents Successfully, A Daughter’s Intimate Memoir describes, relates, and teaches the reader as she chronicles the path she and her family took caring for their parents.
The Author’s Why
Jan Simpson wrote her story “to help those of you who find yourselves worrying about your parents as they enter the last chapter of their lives. I want you to understand some of the choices that have to be made and to encourage you to journey those last miles alongside your parents.” [p. 1x]
The Author Shares Herself
Throughout the book, Ms. Simpson provides valuable advice, and in the appendix, she provides lists of guidance and lessons learned. These resources are essential for adult children who care for their parents now or in the future. She shares her fears and frustrations with the health care industry, herself, and even sometimes with her family and/or her parents. Ms. Simpson’s stories are authentic and, at times, heartbreaking.
How This Memoir Affected Me
Since the majority of Ms. Simpson’s story happened just a few towns away from me, I immediately felt connected to her, her family, and her story.
Her stories gave me an understanding of the events that might occur as my family and I, eventually, care for our parents. Her lessons learned and her tips will help us prepare for and deal with many situations that could arise. Three of Ms. Simpson’s key cautions that have stuck with me since I read her memoir:
Your parents’ quality of care will be based predominantly on their age, education, and ability to pay for services. Your parents will need a patient advocate (usually a family member) to navigate the healthcare system. [p. 30-33] It's clear that communication and definition of roles for each family member will be critical.
Simpson’s father’s legal will did not address what should happen if her mother was unable to serve as the executrix of his will. This omission made it difficult to manage some of her father’s affairs. However, the power of attorney document established by her father's lawyer listed nineteen activities that Ms. Simpson could perform on her mother’s behalf. This list helped Ms. Simpson and her family manage her father’s estate as well as care for her mother. [p. 79] Make a note to review your parents’ wills and the power of attorney documents in detail.
When you care for a loved one, you not only face financial and administrative challenges, but you also face emotional challenges. Ms. Simpson was haunted by her belief that she was personally responsible for remembering her father’s stories in order to remain connected to her father.“…[I was] spending long hours in the early morning recalling my father’s stories so as not to lose any of them, so not to lose him, for I feared that when I could no longer remember the stories, his personal story would be gone, too.” [p. 129]
The author's statement brings tears to my eyes. In my opinion, your parents’ stories should be a shelter for you during tough times of caregiving and/or grief. Their stories should not feel like a burden or cause more stress. That’s one reason that I recommend you help your loved ones write or record their stories before you find yourselves in a crisis situation. Preserving your stories is a gift for both of you and for all future generations. Please let me know how I can help you.
More Memorable Quotes
“As a result, I fed Eric a steady diet of my father’s stories, full of male humor, to ease the transition from childhood to adolescence, a time when life sometimes seems unfair, especially to a young boy.” [p. 200]
Want more information?
Ms. Simpson founded the Circle of Life Partners organization as a resource for clients navigating significant life transitions. You can check them out online at http://www.circleoflifepartners.com/
What to Do Now?
Talk to your parents about the stories you want them to tell. Then, contact me so we can get their stories from their hearts and their heads to paper and playlists.
Source: Benvenuti, Jan Simpson. Don't Give up on Me!: Supporting Aging Parents Successfully, a Daughter's Intimate Memoir. Concord, MA: Circle of Life Partners, 2010. Print.
Words of Wisdom Package
My Words of Wisdom introductory package offers everyone the opportunity to save and share a loved one’s beliefs, values, and life lessons with family. After spending one hour with your loved one, I’ll work my magic and a few weeks later, you’ll receive
- A digital playlist of fully-edited, 5-Minute Memoir™ audio recordings
- Five spiral-bound, softcover, lightly-edited transcripts
- Two irreplaceable heirlooms to share with all members of your family
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© 2017 Sunday Dinner Stories, Michelle Beckman