Dutiful Daughters Case Study

An eclectic and evocative collection of first-person narratives by women who serve as the primary caretakers of their elderly parents. Gould, a visiting scholar in Women's Studies at Northeastern University, has collected 22 moving and provocative essays examining the many emotions felt by those caring for aging parents. From the diversity of voices and experiences, a number of common themes emerge. Among them is the healing that can occur between daughter and parent as the roles of dependency are reversed. While caring for her aging father, Patricia A. Gozemba establishes a newly deepened comradeship upon discovering that he had never shared her mother's antipathy toward her lesbianism. ``Stunned by my father's passive declaration of support,'' she writes, ``I felt vindicated, stupid, infantile and relieved.'' Marion Freyer Wolff, too, eventually replaces anger toward her father with forgiveness when, gazing into his sorrowful eyes, she recalls his many losses ranging from family members who were murdered during the Holocaust to his older daughter's recent death. These stories also attest to the unexpected discoveries that a daughter caring for a parent may chance upon. In her story ``The Minyan Connection,'' Sheila Golburgh Johnson describes how she rediscovers Judaismafter years of fleeing any connection to her faith or peopleby joining her father's Saturday morning prayer service after his death. Also included in this collection are accounts of lives that linger on for too long. In ``The Promise,'' Diane Reed describes her desperate, often futile attempts to help her 86-year-old mother die once life had become intolerable. And in ``Mother May Be the Death of Me,'' Martha Baker laments her overbearing mother's survival, since it means that she can continue to ``make the lives of all four of her daughters a living hell.'' Concluding with resources from organizations, and Web sites to books, Dutiful Daughters provides a powerful, intimate overview of circumstances likely to touch many of our lives. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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