Entering the Blue Stone, by Molly Best Tinsley.
The masks had been peeled away. Impatient mother. Passive-aggressive wife. Perennial outsider, suspicious and critical. Woman besieged by fear.
All those past selves had vanished. Maybe they'd died with our father. Maybe Chris had banished them by refusing to listen when she complained of persecution. Maybe Cathy and I had exorcised them by encouraging the details of her wildest dreams until she lost interest in them herself. Or was it just that the brain-plaque of Alzheimer's had clogged the machinery of neurosis along with everything else, filled in the ragged, badly meshing grooves?
Entering the Blue Stone is a memoir, told by Molly Best Tinsley, about her parents in their twilight years and what happened to them when they enter an assisted living home, and later a nursing home. It's one of the saddest books I've read in quite a while and also one of the scariest, since conditions in "old age" homes like these may be prevalent all over the country.
What happens when one's larger-than-life military parents - disciplined, distinguished, exacting - begin sliding out of control? The General struggles to maintain his invulnerable façade against Parkinson's disease; his lovely wife manifests a bizarre dementia. Their three grown children, desperate to save the situation, convince themselves of the perfect solution: an upscale retirement community. But as soon as their parents have been resettled within its walls, the many imperfections of its system of care begin to appear.
Charting the line between comedy and pathos, Molly Best Tinsley’s memoir, Entering the Blue Stone, dissects the chaos at the end of life and discovers what shines beneath: family bonds, the dignity of even an unsound mind, and the endurance of the heart.
When their parents can no longer care for themselves, Molly and her siblings decide to put them in a group home, but it's one where everyone is independent; they believe their parents can "fool" the admittance employees long enough to be accepted into the home. Later, when her parents are having trouble taking pills, they get moved to assisted living, and finally, before their deaths, to the nursing home part of the facility.
It took me a little while to get into this book, as I mostly like to read fiction. After about a third of the novel had passed, however, I became more interested in the subject matter, and the book was easier to read. It's scary to think of our loved ones in these homes; Molly's father was given Haldol, an anti-psychotic drug, and it was basically what killed him, because his body didn't respond well to it. Her mother was later given the same drug, without telling Molly or her family, and it locked up her body very badly, so much so that she was completely rigid. My grandma, before she passed away, was in an assisted living home, but it was not bad at all, luckily; the home where Molly's parents resided sounded like a nightmare for most of the novel.
3.5 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.