They Left Us Everything

They Left Us Everything

A Memoir

Book - 2014
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Winner of the 2015 RBC Taylor Prize
Winner of the 2016 Forest of Reading#65533; Evergreen Award(tm) 

After almost twenty years of caring for elderly parents--first for their senile father,  and then for their cantankerous ninety-three-year-old mother--author Plum Johnson  and her three younger brothers experience conflicted feelings of grief and relief when  their mother, the surviving parent, dies. Now they must empty and sell the beloved  family home, which hasn't been de-cluttered in more than half a century. Twenty-three  rooms bulge with history, antiques, and oxygen tanks. Plum remembers her loving  but difficult parents who could not have been more different: the British father, a  handsome, disciplined patriarch who nonetheless could not control his opinionated,  extroverted Southern-belle wife who loved tennis and gin gimlets. The task consumes  her, becoming more rewarding than she ever imagined. Items from childhood trigger  memories of her eccentric family growing up in a small town on the shores of Lake  Ontario in the 1950s and 60s. But unearthing new facts about her parents helps her  reconcile those relationships with a more accepting perspective about who they were  and what they valued.

 

They Left Us Everything is a funny, touching memoir about the importance of preserving  family history to make sense of the past and nurturing family bonds to safeguard the  future.

Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : Penguin Canada, c2014
ISBN: 9780143189053
Branch Call Number: 306.874 JOH
Characteristics: 274 pages

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n
nhoj
Oct 31, 2017

After 20 years of caring for her elderly parents, the author feels only frustration and resentment. Although her brothers have helped, they haven't been there for the day-to-day slog. Her father died a few years earlier with Alzheimer's disease and her mother has just quietly died a few weeks after Christmas. Plum's American mother and English father settled in Canada as a compromise after World War II and a few years in Asian countries. Like so many of their Depression-era peers, nothing was ever thrown away. The author thinks it will only take her 6 weeks to clean out a 23-room house that's been occupied since 1952. Instead she embarks on a 16-month journey that includes grief, discovering her parents as people, and coming to terms with her often rocky relationship with her mother.

l
LindaMarion
Oct 12, 2017

familiar with oakville ontario so trying to place house. good book, read it in 2 days. liked the history of the home and how much work it was to clear to sell. would recommend to read!

b
becker
Jul 17, 2017

A very pleasant and thoughtful read. Anyone would enjoy this memoir but if you are in your Golden years or are taking care of someone in their Golden years, you will really relate to and enjoy this. It is a wonderful combination of funny, sad and interesting and it will leave you feeling reflective. Good book!

d
daysleeper236
Mar 05, 2017

A poignant, beautifully-written memoir.

sydniec Jan 20, 2017

a touching story set in Oakville, about an old house and the family that loved it. the title reflexs the realization that comes towards the end of the book

h
haileyj
Oct 12, 2016

I enjoyed this book because I am presently going through a very similar situation and so many of the incidents described are spot on. I gave it to my 95 year old mother to read and she enjoyed it too just because it is so topical. A good read for anyone facing the gargantuan task of emptying out a family home and sharing the work and the treasures among the siblings.

JudeLee Oct 04, 2016

I loved, loved this book. It made me laugh and cry. The story was so believable and spoke to me. Her writing was superb. It gets my vote for the Evergreen Award.

t
TheresaAJ
Sep 06, 2016

After 20 years of caring for her elderly parents, the author feels only frustration and resentment. Although her brothers have helped, they haven't been there for the day-to-day slog. Her father died a few years earlier with Alzheimer's disease and her mother has just quietly died a few weeks after Christmas. Plum's American mother and English father settled in Canada as a compromise after World War II and a few years in Asian countries. Like so many of their Depression-era peers, nothing was ever thrown away. The author thinks it will only take her 6 weeks to clean out a 23-room house that's been occupied since 1952. Instead she embarks on a 16-month journey that includes grief, discovering her parents as people, and coming to terms with her often rocky relationship with her mother.

e
empbee
Aug 01, 2016

A very well written serious, funny, touching, practical and educational memoir.

claire1 Jan 13, 2016

very emotional book about parents not having a will and children having to go thru belongings

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thebritlass
Nov 04, 2015

"I know why I needed to spend so much time in this house...it wasn't about untangling the stuff - it was about untangling myself from Mum. The clutter wasn't hers...it was mine."

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