A Cup of Tea on the Commode

My Multi-Tasking Adventures of Caring for Mom. And How I Survived to Tell the Tale

Non-Fiction - Memoir
320 Pages
Reviewed on 01/20/2024
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Author Biography

Mark Steven Porro, a New Jersey native (Exit 163), earned an Industrial Design degree from The Ohio State University. After years of agency work, his love of acting led him to Hollywood, where he appeared in dozens of television, film, and stage productions. Mark also spent his twenty-eight years in Tinseltown, entrepreneuring. He started five non-profit companies. But hold the applause, none were intended to be. He now lives in the South of France. But hold your pity. He of sound mind and body chose to suffer in the heart of wine country where the locals insist his French isn’t so bad—at least that’s what he thinks they’re saying.

Mark is an award-winning designer, writer, and director. He has written lots of jokes, several screenplays, and one award-winning short film. A Cup of Tea on the Commode—a sad, sweet, and funny debut memoir—chronicles his multitasking adventures of filling his mother’s last years with love, laughter, and joy. Though not always successful, he came pretty damn close.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

A Cup of Tea on the Commode by Mark Steven Porro is the memoir of Hollywood dream-chaser Mark and his unwavering commitment to caring for his ailing mother, Genevieve. Mark reflects on a childhood shaped by Catholicism and recounts his initiation into caregiving with humor. Discussions include family traditions, unique culinary experiences, conmen, and the family's heritage. The difficulties seem endless, particularly with contentious hired aides and legal hurdles. Mark ultimately transitions to full-time caregiving, providing insight into daily routines, the evolving dynamics of family, and even the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Mark also battles uphill with his own health and a personal life that humorously details events like his experience with long-distance relationships. When it comes time to say goodbye, Mark looks back on his time with his mother, the unique ways individuals grieve, and the challenges of facing the end of a long journey with loved ones.

A Cup of Tea on the Commode by Mark Steven Porro is a funny, loving, and lovely tribute to the passing of a beloved mother and the time the author, her son, was given to spend with her as her caregiver. Mark writes in a comfortable and conversational style that allows a reader to feel like they are chatting with a friend over coffee. The result is a connection to the work and the people in it that is hard to come by in memoirs written by or about people most readers do not know or know of. I loved Mark's skillful injection of humor into difficult situations, such as his mother's relentless search for discarded cheese labels during a family reunion. The comical scene of Mark and his brothers feigning collapse as Genevieve points her accusing finger is hilarious, and the anecdote involving his nephew's reaction to the chaotic scene adds to its levity. There is an intentional thoughtfulness to Mark's narrative structure and in making connections, like birthdays, and the gradual progression from joyful celebrations to the somber acknowledgment of his mother's limited time. Overall, this is a beautifully told story that will likely prove comforting to others on similar journeys. Very highly recommended.