Julita’s Sands: A Memoir
Here is a powerful memoir full of love, aging, and rediscovery of a mother as an individual, not just ma. Placido tells the story of her mother’s decline, due to dementia, from moving her mom into Placido’s own home to eventually making the decision to move her into a nursing home while trying to hold on to her job, marriage, and life. A bonus is the small bits of Julita’s story as a young girl growing up in Cuba at the beginning of each chapter. They are only a page or two long, but allow us to know Julita as a young girl, full of ambition, love, and joy.
Tender care and honesty are the hallmarks of Placido’s acceptance of her mother and her decline. The humor that she and others find in the situation is a huge unexpected gift to the reader, and I think, to Placido and her family. Moving isn’t even the right word to describe the blooming relationship she develops with Julita by taking care of her. Julita doesn’t walk well, gets uncomfortable with change and new faces, gets increasingly tired, becomes incontinent, but still relishes her meals and repeats at every dinner: “I love wine. Wine is good for you. I’ve been drinking wine since I was three years old.” The humor sprinkled throughout the book makes you realize that it is important to laugh, even when you want to cry.
Placido has written her story, but it is also the story of many of us. Most of us will have to face care of our elder parents in one way or the other, and many already have. Placido shows us how it can be done with love, friendship, and a strong marriage.
If you are a fan of long goodbyes and movies such as The Notebook, or if you have had to care for an elderly parent, this is exactly what you are looking for. Just remember to bring along some tissues for the ending. I cried like a baby.
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