The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting

The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting

by Elizabeth Cohen

In this beautiful book, Elizabeth Cohen gives us a true and moving portrait of the love and courage of a family.Elizabeth, a member of the sandwich generationpeople caught in the middle, simultaneously caring for their children and for their aging parentsis the mother of Ava and the daughter of Daddy, and responsible for both.

Hers is the story of a womans struggle to keep her family whole, to raise her child in a house of laughter and love, and to keep her father from hiding the house keys in his slippers.In this story full of everyday triumphs, first steps, and elderly confusion, Ava, a baby, finds each new picture, each new word, each new song, something to learn greedily, joyfully.

Daddy is a man in his twilight years for whom time moves slowly and ons are not learned but quietly, frustratingly forgotten.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Autobiography
  • Rating: 4.12
  • Pages: 288
  • Publish Date: April 1st 2003 by Random House
  • Isbn10: 0375507272
  • Isbn13: 9780375507274

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I think anyone taking care of elderly parents would love this book.

Instead, she brings forward the bittersweet joy of seeing her babys mind load up with new connections and words as her father sheds his.

It just took me almost 15 years since publication to read it. Although I think this book is out of print, I will try to find enough copies for my bookclub to read next year.

Everything is fine, but life gets complicated when her 80 year-old father, who has Alzheimers, comes to live with her.

These numbers represent the ages of the three main characters: Cohen's daughter Ava, herself, and her father, who has Alzheimer's disease: I celebrated all my daughter's firsts. She said "Baby Aba"--her name is Ava--the same week we received our census and my father looked for a long time at the form before asking me his own name." Throughout the narrative, Cohen exams the steps that brought her to her current situation. Mostly, though, what she does is live in the moment and accept the tender mercies all around her: "I must admit that, while the management of day-to-day affairs can seem impossible, things are sometimes pleasant. That I am doing something right." Even if you have never been a caretaker of the young, the aged, or the infirm, I'm certain this book will resonate for you because at the core, there is a beating heart and a voice--Cohen's own, strong, clear voice--that will remind you not to take for granted how very much you have right now, living in this moment.

Such a beautiful journey about love, language, and family in all its challenges and victories.

The House On Beartown Road is one of those quiet, unobtrusive books that are easily skipped on a bookstore shelf. Cohens subject matter is much more modest her year as a sandwich adult, caught in the middle between simultaneously and singlehandedly caring for a baby daughter and an Alzheimers father, all while working full-time. Already stretched thin by the birth of her daughter Ava, she took on the responsibility of caring for her aging father after his diagnosis of Alzheimers, the disease that erodes memory. But nine weeks after Daddy moves into Cohens house, her husband abandons the marriage. Suddenly alone with a one-year-old and an 80-year-old, and with winter imminent, Cohen is rapidly overwhelmed by her reconfigured family, much like her isolated house becomes imprisoned by the mounting snowdrifts. The House On Beartown Road is primarily a memoir of family. Cohen structures it as a story of the human mind in three of its stages the near vertical learning curve of her baby daughter Ava, her own midlife of the mind that both learned and forgot, and the sieve-like memory of her father in mid-to-late Alzheimers. On the same day Ava said Mama for the first time, Daddy asked Cohen for the first time who she was. For a while, Ava and Daddy have a meeting of the minds, in that they operate at the same intellectual level. In seeking meaning in 'normal' daily life that is universally familiar, Cohen has crafted a Memoir For The Common Man. She shows us that even the mundane can be interesting and meaningful, and even beautiful. The House On Beartown Road is a singularly fine literary achievement, especially for a first book. So while everyone else lives vicariously through best-seller memoirs like Life and Eat, Pray, Love, go back to the bookstore and search again for Elizabeth Cohens quiet masterwork about a life we might all have to live.

The authors father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.