Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver is a work of non-fiction in the social issues and memoir subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by Gretchen Staebler. As the title suggests, the work handles the tricky topic of care for the elderly, in this case, the author’s ninety-six-year-old mother, who is suffering from advancing dementia and blindness alongside the more subtle ravages of old age. As mother and daughter spend time together for over a year, Gretchen rethinks their relationship over time and discovers ways to heal and accept all parts of her mother and, in turn, new parts of herself.
Personal works such as this one have a fine balance to achieve between the author’s cathartic expression of their life experiences and creating something that is accessible and valuable to others, and Gretchen Staebler certainly achieves that. As someone who has had much experience caring for elderly relatives in the recent past, I found Gretchen’s frustrations with the healthcare system and with the reluctant patient highly resonant, and she writes with an empathetic but direct narrative style that makes you feel as though a kindred soul is speaking to you. There are many difficult moments where trauma is worked through, but the overall feel of the read is one of strength, acceptance, and love, for yourself as much as for those that you care for. This makes Mother Lode a must-read for anyone in a similar situation, especially those who feel they might find themselves there sometime in the future.