Reviewed by me for Reader’s Favorite.
Where do I even begin after walking down such a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, terrifying, and hopeful memory lane with the author? I would like to try jot down all the thoughts that crossed my mind and heart while reading this amazing memoir. In While They’re Still Here – A Memoir, the author, Patricia Williams, writes about the time when her parents needed her more than ever and they had to be brought to live closer to her. Their deteriorating medical condition necessitated that Trish, as they lovingly called the author, take them under her wings. She had anticipated that this transition was not going to be a smooth one, and her game plan included the family’s tried and tested weapon: don’t ask, don’t tell. However, this weapon was put to test multiple times when she had to decide whether this weapon would be the best one at the moment. As the medical issues of her parents began surfacing, she struggled to keep up with the information. Her to-do list kept piling up and every now and then she questioned her abilities and strength.
The memoir is extremely honest and its authenticity is evident in every single line of every chapter. Although she presented how her mother’s unpredictable mood swings made her walk on eggshells around her, Ms. Williams remained respectful of her mother’s memories throughout the book. The author has defined the characteristics of her parents in a very elegant manner. When the author mentioned that her mother was a Gemini, I, being a Gemini myself, instantly managed to relate to her. I could understand the faraway look that her mother carried in her eyes, her excitement as the holiday season approached, her attachment to many memories, and her mood swings. I empathized with Ms. Williams because I know how difficult a Gemini can become when she is feeling low. Anyway, her mention of the zodiac sign definitely helped me understand her situation and her mother’s helplessness in the matter in a much better light. I believe the readers who have even the slightest knowledge of zodiac signs would appreciate the inclusion of this information. Her description of her father did not come in terms of any zodiac signs, but by the numerous stories that he shared. Being a man who fixed everything by himself, he did not take the loss of a good vision very well. However, what touched me the most was the smart and heartfelt ways in which Ms. Williams made him feel needed.
While They’re Still Here – A Memoir is more than just a book. It is a mirror that would force you to cherish your parents while they are still here. Although taking care of anybody at their old age seems like a cumbersome task, it is undoubtedly the most rewarding experience. And when the people in question are your parents, then you must try your best to be at their side. Ms. Williams’ parents did not ask her for things; instead, they dropped hints. If she wanted to, she could have easily ignored their subtle little signs, but she chose to do the honorable thing and felt relieved about doing so. There are so many emotions in this book that it’s almost impossible to convey all those feelings in one go.
This is a memoir for the readers who are taking care of their parents or are soon going to start this journey. We must cherish our parents while they are still here.