Last Visit to My Mother
Original title: Dernière visite à ma mère
A heartrending account of a sensitive subject that many of us will confront eventually – the dying days of a loved one.
A daughter writes to her mother • Marie-Sabine Roger spent two and a half years visiting her mother in a care home before she eventually died at the age of ninety-four, a few weeks before lockdown. Staff shortages meant the old woman quickly became incontinent and bedridden. Her hands no longer obeyed her, her memories dissolved, and she succumbed to depression. She was treated like a child and medicated to stop her crying out in loneliness. Soon, she stopped talking altogether. Until the very end, the author tried to get through to her once whimsical, elusive mother. She now asks whether her mother, a capricious child, ever really loved her at all. When the day is almost over, can you say what has never been said? Do you dare show your fondness through unspoken gestures?
A universal subject • Old age, care home conditions, our relationship with parents once they become dependent, and the reminder of our own aging are subjects relevant to us all.
A cry of concern • “Growing old might be inevitable; it doesn’t have to be so hard”, concludes Marie-Sabine Roger. Her book is a profoundly human call for dignity in great old age. Her searingly raw writing is full of emotional honesty, giving her narrative genuine power.
Imagine the story of a mother and daughter who love each other and know how to tell each other, and who have made the most of every opportunity for sharing and laughter.
That is what I tell myself when I am far away from you. Every time I come to see you, for embarrassing visits laden with platitudes, rarely more than three hours, because after a while I can see you’re tired – I see your gaze losing focus, flitting here and there, bumping into things, and hear it as you increasingly repeat yourself – every time I come I wish I could tell you about important things, that are doubtless only important for me.
For several months now, I’ve been thinking about sending you a letter, a letter from a daughter to her mother, a few words at the end of the day.
A letter to an irreplaceable woman, before night closes in.
- Print run: 8,000 copies