4 out of 4 stars
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"Even in the hardest times, there was still music."
In C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia, Deborah P. Hall shares a realistic glimpse of her relationship with her mother, both before and after the diagnosis of early-onset dementia. Hall was always close to her mother; in addition to being mother and daughter, they were business partners and best friends. By choosing to focus on her mother, rather than the ravages of the disease, Hall provides a beautiful tribute to the woman who instilled in her a love for music, family, and God.
The book spans 322 pages and is well-written, informative, and exceptionally edited. Regarding her mother's dementia, Hall first notices subtle discrepancies. These changes may have gone undetected, had they not been spending so much time together. As the disease progresses, Hall witnesses more rapid "nose-dive" declines. She reflects on poignant milestones such as when her mother could no longer work, drive, or continue to live in her cherished home on the farm, Erdenheim. Hall also provides a wealth of practical information for caregivers ranging from documenting family photographs and videos to navigating necessary paperwork.
Complete with photographs, Hall entertains readers with anecdotes from her family’s background and brings to life the characters from her childhood. She introduced her mother as someone who "refused to confirm precisely with expectations," beginning with her birth as a prematurely-born baby. Granddaddy was a preacher, Grandmother was a no-nonsense piano teacher, and Hall's Aunt Vicki delighted in playing dress-up with the cat. As Hall shared tidbits from her childhood, I became endeared to her single-parent mother, as well as their close mother-daughter relationship.
I particularly like Hall's choice to focus on her relationship with her mother despite the obvious challenges involved in caring for a parent with dementia. Even as a young woman, Hall describes her mother as "powered by sheer determination." As her mother's dementia progressed, this strength of will didn't always manifest itself in positive ways. However, Hall continued to remind herself that the culprit was the disease and not her mother. To say I admire her patience and devotion would be an understatement. I also enjoyed the "diamonds" Hall shared--little glimpses of clarity or humor reminiscent of her mother before dementia.
I honestly can't name a thing I disliked about this book. I'm pleased to rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who enjoy memoirs, and those facing caretaking for their parents. It is also an informative resource for readers seeking to learn more about early-onset dementia.
C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia
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