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Gretchen Staebler promises to spend one year in her childhood home caring for her stubborn ninety-six-year-old mother--sort of a middle-aged gap year. Then her mother will move to assisted living and she will return to her own life, their relationship magically having become all she ever longed it to be. Can it be that easy?
As mother and daughter each try desperately to keep a firm grasp on their independence, their daily battles in Mama's kitchen fiefdom echo the clash of adolescence and menopause in the same spot decades earlier. Penetrating the fog of her mother's advancing dementia, hypochondria, and blindness with humor, frustration, and compassion--and wine--the author slowly comes to accept and respect the mother she got, if not the one she wished for. In the process, she becomes a self-taught authority on aging, dementia, the healthcare system, and self-care. But how long will healing between mother and daughter take--and how long do they have?