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Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite
Where do I even begin after walking down such a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, terrifying, and hopeful Memory Lane with the author? I would like to try to jot down all the thoughts that crossed my mind and heart while reading this amazing memoir. In While They're Still Here: A Memoir, the author, Patricia Williams, writes about the time when her parents needed her more than ever and they had to be brought to live closer to her. Their deteriorating medical conditions necessitated that Trish, as they lovingly called the author, take them under her wing. She had anticipated that this transition was not going to be a smooth one, and her game plan included the family's tried and tested weapon: don't ask, don't tell. However, this weapon was put to the test multiple times when she had to decide whether this weapon would be the best one at the moment. As her parents' medical issues began surfacing, she struggled to keep up with the information. Her to-do list kept piling up and every now and then she questioned her abilities and strength.
The memoir is extremely honest and its authenticity is evident in every single line of every chapter. Although she described how her mother's unpredictable mood swings made her walk on eggshells around her, Ms. Williams remained respectful of her mother's memories throughout the book. The author has defined the characteristics of her parents in a very elegant manner. When the author mentioned that her mother was a Gemini, I, being a Gemini myself, instantly managed to relate to her. I could understand the faraway look that her mother had in her eyes, her excitement as the holiday season approached, her attachment to many memories, and her mood swings. I empathized with Ms. Williams because I know how difficult a Gemini can become when feeling low. Her mention of the zodiac sign definitely helped me understand her situation and her mother's helplessness in a much better light. I believe readers who have even the slightest knowledge of zodiac signs would appreciate the inclusion of this information. Her description of her father did not come in terms of any zodiac signs, but by the numerous stories that he shared. Being a man who fixed everything himself, he did not take the loss of good vision very well. However, what touched me the most were the clever and heartfelt ways in which Ms. Williams made him feel needed.
While They're Still Here: A Memoir is more than just a book. It is a mirror that will encourage you to cherish your parents while they are still here. Although taking care of anybody in their old age seems like a cumbersome task, it is undoubtedly the most rewarding experience. And when the people in question are your parents, then you must try your best to be at their side. Ms. Williams' parents did not ask her for things; instead, they dropped hints. If she wanted to, she could have easily ignored their subtle little signs, but she chose to do the honorable thing and felt relieved about doing so. There are so many emotions in this book that it's almost impossible to convey all those feelings in one go. This is a memoir for readers who are taking care of their parents or are soon going to start this journey. We must cherish our parents while they are still here.