Review: The Living End
Robert Leleux was blessed with a flamboyant mother and a larger-than-life grandmother and he loved them both dearly. They weren’t so crazy about each other, though, so they didn’t speak to each other for most of his life. When his beloved grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2005, Robert was devastated but determined to spend as much time with her and take the best care of her he could. For his birthday, he asked his mother to join him at his grandparents’ and she reluctantly agreed. Because his grandmother had forgotten much of the past, Robert’s mother and grandmother were able to forge a new relationship before his grandmother’s death.
The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgetting, by Robert Leleux is a beautifully written book about discovering joy in the midst of pain. It’s about accepting those we love for who they are, no matter the circumstances. I admired Robert’s ability to see the positive in such a heartbreaking time.
Alzheimer’s is often referred to as “a second childhood.” It’s a phrase that used to offend me, since it’s often delivered with disrespect. But from another perspective, it can be pretty profound. When small children fall, they cry, and in five minutes they’ve forgotten all about it. This sort of resilience seems so impossible in adulthood, but my grandmother taught me the importance of forgetting.
Robert’s love for his grandmother and mother are evident in the pages of this wonderful book, and so is his pain when his grandmother was stricken with dementia. I shed a tear or two as I read the book since Robert puts so much emotion in the story. At 133 pages, it could be a quick read but I spent a little time with it since I wanted to savor the writing. Robert Leleux has a way with words! If someone you love suffers from dementia, The Living End is a must read. Those who love memoirs and family stories should enjoy it as well.