How I Lost My Mother

A story of life, care and dying
Author(s):
  • Publication Date: March 2021
  • Dimensions and Pages: 229 x 152mm Extent: 252pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-694-9
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-77614-697-0
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-696-3
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 385.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 30.00

This is an extraordinary memoir: refreshingly candid and self-critical, humorous and wise. It offers a compassionate account of a difficult mother-son relationship and delves deeply into the ethics of care. In his mother’s last years, Leslie hired and worked with her carers to help him look after his mother and in this memoir he documents and honours their work. The book makes an original contribution both to the genre of family memoirs and caring for the dying. – G. Thomas Couser, Professor Emeritus of English and founding director of the Disability Studies Program, Hofstra University, and author of, most recently, a memoir, Letter to My Father

With humour and tenderness Leslie Swartz writes about his late mother, Elsie, telling her life story and describing her with as much loving objectivity as one can have towards a parent. His intimate narrative shows how love is all about ‘losing’ a loved one in multiple ways over and over again. In this compelling memoir he also demonstrates how the important work of caring is too often invisible and goes unrecognised. – Colleen Higgs, author of my mother, my madness

It is precisely because the writing of this book is so deeply personal that it will resonate universally. This is a story of one man but so too is it the story of us all. It is brave, truthful and full of heart. – Rahla Xenopoulos, author of A Memoir of Love and Madness, Bubbles, Tribe and The Season of Glass

How I Lost My Mother is a deeply felt account of the relationship between a mother and son, and an exploration of what care for the dying means in contemporary society.  The book is emotionally complex – funny, sad and angry – but above all, heartfelt and honest.  It speaks boldly of challenges faced by all of us, challenges which are often not spoken about and hidden, but which deserve urgent attention.  This is first and foremost a work of the heart, a reflection on what relationships mean and should mean.  There is much in the book about relationships of care and exploitation in southern Africa, and about white Jewish identity in an African context.  But despite the specific and absorbing references to places and contexts, the book offers a broader, more universal view.  All parents of adult children, and all adults who have parents alive, or have lost their parents, will find much in this book to make them laugh, cry, think and feel.

Introduction
Part I: Finding
Chapter 1 The Weeping Rose
Chapter 2 Be sociable
Chapter 3 Goodwill
Chapter 4 The trouble with nerves
Chapter 5 The archives
Chapter 6 Nadine Gordimer, Anne Frank, Elsie Cohen and me
Part II: Losing
Chapter 7 Shouting loud
Chapter 8 Coming home
Chapter 9 Avoiding surgery
Chapter 10 Closing In
Chapter 11 Scar tissue
Chapter 12 Care
Chapter 13 What ends?
Part III: Afterwords
Chapter 14 Death admin
Chapter 15 How I lost my mother
Notes
Bibliography
Acknowledgement

Leslie Swartz is a clinical psychologist and a distinguished professor of psychology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa best known for his work on disability studies, disability rights, and mental health issues. His memoir Able-Bodied: Scenes from a curious life (2010), received critical acclaim

This is an extraordinary memoir: refreshingly candid and self-critical, humorous and wise. It offers a compassionate account of a difficult mother-son relationship and delves deeply into the ethics of care. In his mother’s last years, Leslie hired and worked with her carers to help him look after his mother and in this memoir he documents and honours their work. The book makes an original contribution both to the genre of family memoirs and caring for the dying. – G. Thomas Couser, Professor Emeritus of English and founding director of the Disability Studies Program, Hofstra University, and author of, most recently, a memoir, Letter to My Father

With humour and tenderness Leslie Swartz writes about his late mother, Elsie, telling her life story and describing her with as much loving objectivity as one can have towards a parent. His intimate narrative shows how love is all about ‘losing’ a loved one in multiple ways over and over again. In this compelling memoir he also demonstrates how the important work of caring is too often invisible and goes unrecognised. – Colleen Higgs, author of my mother, my madness

It is precisely because the writing of this book is so deeply personal that it will resonate universally. This is a story of one man but so too is it the story of us all. It is brave, truthful and full of heart. – Rahla Xenopoulos, author of A Memoir of Love and Madness, Bubbles, Tribe and The Season of Glass

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