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On Her Own Terms

Poems about Memory Loss and Living Life to the Fullest

Carolyn Gammon

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Internationally acclaimed author Carolyn Gammon conjures a kind and unflinching portrait of her mother’s dementia—ultimately revealing the love, joy and life which remain even as memory and past fade.

Learning to speak in maybes—perhaps I told you? Were you there?—and to let a mother direct memory as memory vanishes, Gammon threads a path through time, bringing us into the heart and heat of a mother-daughter relationship that is changing as each day passes. That one day, may not offer “the pleasure of a daughter’s company, but only that of a warm hand.”

Each poem reveals the intimacy of this mother-daughter relationship, thrusting the reader into their dialogue and communication. At the end of each poem is a quote from Gammon’s mother, often eerily insightful, reflecting her own youthful ambition to write: “I am still clinging to the vine” and “I find forgetting easy.”

Kind, often funny, and always honest, this collection is for anyone who has loved someone who is beginning to forget; has forgotten; but will not be forgotten.

These words offer an archive; a testament to the memory that lives in books—and a reminder that memory loss is not an insurmountable barrier to living a good life.

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