While They're Still Here

A Memoir

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Pub Date 07 Nov 2017 | Archive Date 08 Nov 2017

Description

After a lifetime of strained bonds with her aging parents, Patricia Williams finds herself in the unexpected position of being their caregiver and neighbor. As they all begin to navigate this murky battleground, the long-buried issues that have divided their family for decades—alcoholism, infidelity, opposing politics—rear up and demand to be addressed head-on.
Williams answers the call of duty with trepidation at first, confronting the lines between service and servant, guardian and warden, while her parents alternately resist her help and wear her out. But by facing each new struggle with determination, grace, and courage, they ultimately emerge into a dynamic of greater transparency, mutual support, and teachable moments for all. Honest and humorous, graceful and grumbling, While They’re Still Here is a poignant story about a family that waves the white flag and begins to heal old wounds as they guide each other through the most vulnerable chapter of their lives.

After a lifetime of strained bonds with her aging parents, Patricia Williams finds herself in the unexpected position of being their caregiver and neighbor. As they all begin to navigate this murky...


Advance Praise

"A refreshingly candid, poignant memoir that lays bare the physical and emotional costs of care, While They’re Still Here powerfully demonstrates the lengths we go to ensure the health and safety of our aging parents. Williams’ writing is stark and lucid, her well-crafted anecdotes filled with compassion even as her life is upended and her caregiving duties mount. Her book reminds us of the ability we all have to redefine our lives and our relationship with our parents―and to savor the time we have left with them."

—Jana Panarites, author of Scattered: My Year As An Accidental Caregiver

"Trish Williams is unwilling to let her parents’ lives slip away uninspected. Her journey through caretaking balances her family credo, “get over it,” with doses of compassion, self-examination, and humor. While They’re Still Here is a love letter to the author’s parents and a deep examination of aging. The daughter of two avid storytellers, it’s clear that Williams is a good listener. It’s a pleasure to watch as she discovers her own power to spin a tale and finds solace and self-worth in the power of story."

—Tanya Ward Goodman, Author of Leaving Tinkertown

“No matter how different our families may be, one thing’s for sure: they all come with plenty of baggage. Common themes abound, including impossible expectations, unmet dreams, and issues of identity, vulnerability, and a few family secrets tossed in for good measure. In this beautifully written memoir, we see how author and daughter Patricia Williams carefully unpacks it all while caring for her aging parents. The journey is a bumpy one, yet she manages it with grace, good humor, and most assuredly, love.”

—Judith Henry, author of The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving

“Patricia Williams’s compelling debut memoir, While They’re Still Here, is a smart, insightful, honest, poignant, and delightfully told story of the years Williams was her parents’ caretaker. As Williams traverses the difficulties inherent in caregiving, we witness her brilliant insights into reframing situations and self-talk in a way that makes any situation more manageable. I fell in love with her parents and you will too. This is the book I wish had existed when I was caretaking my own mother. A definite must-read!” 

—Virginia A. Simpson, PhD, FT, award-winning author of The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life

“Trish Williams, as a responsible and dutiful daughter, weaves an engaging story of the struggles and painful moments in caring for her aging parents. But she doesn’t stop there. With humor and insight, she gives the reader a clear and compassionate view of their lives, including those sweet moments that make them more lovable in spite of themselves. She also shares her difficulties and frustrations in her role as ‘the responsible one.’ Of course, the irresponsible child would never have written the book!”

—Rosalie Thomas, RN, PhD

“In her new memoir, While They’re Still Here, author Patricia Williams writes about the ultimate role reversal. Her role as a loving daughter is slowly upended as she becomes a lifeline and caregiver for her aging parents as they try to negotiate the daily challenges that overturn their lives and hers. The role of caregiver is one many of us must face. Williams candidly shares the intimate and rewarding moments along with the fears and unexpected burdens that go along with this complex relationship. The reader will empathize and learn from her experience and will take away familiar themes they can learn from and that will stay with them.” 

—Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW, patient advocate and award-winning author of Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents

“The emotional roller coaster of caring for an aging parent is not an easy ride. Baby boomers―the population riding that train right now―often find themselves trying to balance respect for a parent’s intelligence and independence with providing for his or her safety and security. It is a juggling act of epic proportions. In While They’re Still Here, that juggling act is an emotional tribute to self-sacrifice and a daughter’s unfailing love for her parents. To the author’s credit, it also glimpses the depth of understanding of her family and self that Williams achieved during this formidable experience. This book is written with honesty, humility, and love, and will remind anyone involved in caring for an elderly parent that you are not alone in your labor of love.” 

—Sandra Bullock Smith, award-winning author of Trading Places: Becoming My Mother’s Mother

"A refreshingly candid, poignant memoir that lays bare the physical and emotional costs of care, While They’re Still Here powerfully demonstrates the lengths we go to ensure the health and safety of...


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