Today’s book review is on friend and author Stevie Turner’s book – Waiting in the Wings, a memoir.
I’ve read a few books of Stevie’s now and I’m am quite fond of her writing style. Stevie doesn’t hold back with her thoughts and as a memoir writer myself, I couldn’t wait to sink my eyes into this book.
At the grand old age of 92, my mother Dot suddenly starts telling me that she loves me. I am quite dumbstruck at these outbursts of emotion, as she has never mentioned the fact before in all of my 58 years. Over the entire course of my lifetime we have often argued bitterly, and have never really seen eye-to-eye over anything. I squirm with the inner knowledge that she wants me to reply in a similar vein, but try as I might, I cannot.
The guilt I feel at being unable to grant Dot her wish is overwhelming. As Dot’s health deteriorates more towards the final chapters of her life, I take on the role of carer. I find the only way to bring her out of her perpetual misery is to reminisce on past events by showing her old family photographs, and by helping her to remember holidays and happier times. We look back without anger and sometimes with a lot of laughter, getting to know each other better, raking over the past, and talking more than we have ever done. The process helps me, a middle-aged woman, understand the perils of ageing that I might one day face, and also the struggles that elderly people suffer on a day-to-day basis while stoically attempting to maintain their independence.
This is a true story, told in flashbacks and in modern-day often humorous conversations with my mother.
My 5 Star Review:
Turner’s memoir is an insightful story about a mother and daughter relationship that has moved to a new dimension. Throughout the author’s life she struggled with her relationship with her mother. Dot was set in her ways and always seemed to be trying to conform Stevie to what she wanted her to be. The angst Stevie felt growing up with Dot is documented through this touching and heartfelt memoir as Dot is now old and being an only child, Stevie has taken on the roll to care for her aging invalid mother.
Dot struggles to maintain her independence, making Stevie’s job somewhat more difficult to tend to Dot with her whims and antics, but it seems that the two find a common bond while exchanging stories from the past where Dot can be happy reliving her younger days, and where Turner establishes a common ground with memories they can bond over.
Many stories are shared from Turner’s childhood, about living under the eagle eye of Dot. We learn to understand that as much as Dot loved her daughter, she didn’t know how to show her love, which became a difficult burden for Turner to give her mother love in return.
As a child, Turner was tired of Dot’s OCD ways of life, and as a result, rebelled as many a child will do, with vowing not to be like her mother. Through this story, Dot’s anal ways could drive a sane person mad at times. Dot didn’t know how to show love and emotion and her methods of thinking she was doing so as a good mother were to nag at and not encourage her daughter for the attributes she possessed, but rather harped on how she thought her daughter should dress, and live her life, driving Turner batty, resulting in her wanting to keep in her own comfort zone, much as a loner.
As a memoirist myself, I know the angst of feeling sorry for an aging mother who never fulfilled me emotionally, and similar to Turner’s life, I understand the position she was in, finding it difficult to be able to tell her own mother that she loved her when the words were foreign to her all of her life. It brings a heart-crushing feeling when you can’t bring yourself to respond with those words, ‘I love you’, as I sensed the pathetic non-verbal pleading in my own mother too, wanting to hear me say those difficult words.
I highly recommend this book, not only for the manner in which it was written with entertainment value, but for anyone who has or is struggling with an aging parent, finding it difficult to forgive the past and to learn that there is always a way to make amends.