By Lorene Cary – W.W. Norton & Company 2019
Author, educator and social activist Lorene Cary reflects on treasured memories of her family from her childhood until she became the caregiver for her feisty, tenacious 101-year-old grandmother, Nana Jackson. Nana—who worked until she was 100—survived pneumonia and a car accident and outlived her term in hospice. Learning Nana needed round-the-clock care, Cary, her husband and daughters took the strong-willed matriarch into their home. Cary juggled the logistics involved in bringing a close to a life that has spanned a century, navigating the frustrations of America’s broken health care system, dealing with a stubborn grandmother and maintaining her own life as a working professional, wife and mother.
But Ladysitting is not just a caregiving memoir; it’s also a dive into Cary’s own rich history—one in which her family immigrated from Barbados to America, then endured the oppression of the South before settling in Philadelphia. The takeaway from the book is the love that Cary gives back to her grandmother, who always provided her with doting refuge, even helping mail in her vote for America’s first Black president—a race Nana followed with much excitement and a final feeling of hope before she died. Cary shares the ugly, exhausting side of caregiving, but she also shows how the hardship speaks to something more powerful: unconditional love of family.