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Caring for Mother: A Daughter's Long Goodbye

Author: Virginia Stem Owens
Published By: Westminster John Knox (Louisville Kentucky)
Pages: 176
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 978 0 66423 152

Reviewed by Luke Penkett.

For all of us involved in the care of others, especially the elderly or the mentally ill or disabled, this book is a must. Owens, who has written sixteen books besides numerous articles and reviews (several on death and dying), is a popular speaker and workshop leader and a member of the editorial board of Books and Culture, so you would expect a well written book. In this account of sharing the last seven years of her mother’s life as she lives with Parkinson’s, then a series of strokes and finally dementia, we benefit from the clarity, honesty and compassion we meet on every single page.

Throughout those years, Owens also records her own challenges, fears and worries, including her oncoming blindness and anxieties about suffering and death, and this gives depth to her writing.  

Exploring philosophical and theological questions, Caring for Mother offers new and incisive insights and is also beautifully written. “It often seemed as if she were trapped under the rubble of an earthquake, her rationality, curiosity, humour, and generous spirit slowly suffocating under the wreckage of her ruined brain...Nothing had ever confronted so forcefully my faith that an ultimate graciousness dwelt at the heart of the world and cared for us.”(Distributed in the UK by Alban Books, Edinburgh)

Luke Penkett

Monk and Priest working with L'Arche Community

Ministry Today

You are reading Issue 42 of Ministry Today, published in March 2008.

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