Crackling with energy, the unexpected love story of a career-driven mother, a once-resentful daughter, and a ten-year battle with Alzheimer's
At a time when such things were rare, Elinor Fuchs's mother, Lil, escaped a miserable marriage, took back her maiden name, left young Elinor to be raised by grandparents, and launched a career that led her from the midwest to Washington, D.C. Rejoining her as an adolescent, Elinor watched as Lil traveled the world selling automotive parts and military gear, gave fabulous parties, and "in any given room, took up all the air there was." With her stunning looks and drive for success, Lil was a figure to admire, not a mother to love. Elinor determined to despise her mother's values and, once in college, to keep her distance.
Making an Exit is the moving account of what happened afterward, during the final years of Lil's life. Following her mother's diagnosis with Alzheimer's, Fuchs finds herself the caretaker. As the disease progresses, she becomes her mother's mother, dressing her, bathing her, feeding her-all with growing compassion. Lil changes, too: filled with new warmth, the word "love" now regularly crosses her lips. And through the fantastic poetry in the disintegration of Lil's language, mother and daughter make a surprising new start.
With wit, wisdom, and theatrical flair, Making an Exit tells an uncommon story of a parent's decline-less a conventional narrative of aging and loss than one of discovery, devotion, and spiritual growth. "The last ten years," writes Fuchs, "they were our best."