They Left Us Everything: A Memoir Paperback – Mar 18 2014
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Praise for They Left Us Everything
“[They Left Us Everything] is the kind of slim, unassuming memoir that hits you deep in the gut . . . Amid the scraps of paper left in jacket pockets, family photos and pieces of furniture, part of the “everything” our parents leave us with are our memories of them, good and bad. Perhaps figuring out what to do with them is as close to a manual for grief as we get.”—National Post
“Johnson writes with clarity, wit and a powerful descriptive voice that makes the rambling family home she moves back into for 16 weeks a character in itself.”—NOW Toronto
“A fascinating and delightful story – a satisfying and thought-provoking book.”—The Parry Sound North Star
“Each word of They Left Us Everything is heartfelt and moving. We are privy to Johnson’s emotional journey to the point that it feels like she is part of our own family. Her story lingers inside, touching the soul.”—newz4u.net
“At times heartbreaking and at others hysterically funny . . . the book’s descriptive prose brings [the] places and people to life and poignantly conveys the quasi-spiritual journey that helps Johnson overcome her grief.”—Publishers Weekly
“[Johnson] takes you along on a journey that is emotional, humorous, and candid.”—Newstalk 1010
About the Author
Plum Johnson is an award-winning author, artist and entrepreneur living in Toronto. She was the founder of KidsCanada Publishing Corp., publisher of KidsToronto, and co-founder of Help’s Here! resource magazine for seniors and caregivers.
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Top Customer Reviews
I think this is a wonderfully timely book. So many of us have bid farewell to our parents or are still dealing with the roller coaster ride of attempting to provide a comfortable and dignified conclusion to their lives.Now is a good time for reflection.
Johnson with great humour and sincerity, took me on a heartfelt journey through her experiences and those of her family. I felt right at home.
It begins after the protagonist, Plum, moves home to care for her aging mother. She and her siblings have differing opinions of how things should be handled. I’m sure anyone who has family can appreciate and find humour in these family squabbles. The story takes us back to when her parents first met and the decades that follow while they raise their growing family. Plum has many memories to relive and the reader feels connected while following along in this huge estate. It’s a true family saga, rich in drama and laughter. There’s heartbreak and joy throughout this lovely book. I didn’t want it end.
I laughed and cried, feeling the roller coaster ride of emotions she bravely explores, laying herself bare and vulnerable to the reader. Her evolution from an almost judgemental daughter (can't we all be that!) to a child who learns about her parents' lives through letters, photographs, stories, and is able to weave their humanity into them so she herself can see it, is a journey every adult should take. She reminds us that a parent is a human being with their own story, their own challenges.
Her characters - the real people in her life, come alive with her skilled emotive and humourous writing.
I loved this memoir. Perhaps it reminds me of my own family, many stories are similar, as is the era, but for many reasons I was taken into the old home, room by room, memory by memory.
I did not want to walk out the gate.
For twenty years, Johnson and her brothers had been caregivers for their once-vibrant and world-travelled parents before they died. Her handsome and very regimented British father suffered with Alzheimers for twelve years before he passed away and her mother lived twol more years in the massive house with the on-going help of Johnson, her brothers and a live-in Tibetan couple.
They Left Us Everything is a sensitive and engaging description of her parents' life and their final decline. Johnson describes the frustrations she experiences as the result of her mother's frustrations inherent with aging. For a vibrant woman who had once entertained as many as two hundred people during Christmas holidays to be tethered to an oxygen tank and unable to walk more than a few steps without stopping to rest, the frustrations were enormous.
The book was not without humorous anecdotes such as the story of her brother taking their Alzheimer's-afflicted father on a Carribbean cruise to give her mother a break. Their father was convinced he'd gone around the world visiting such exotic destinations Borneo, London and Japan and regaled the family with his fantasy-based hilarious tales when he returned home.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A good read but a bit generic. I was expecting a bit more, emotionally. I had a hard time deciding whether this should be three or four stars, but in the end I'm glad I read it.Published 6 days ago by Robin Lady
Beside the shores of Lake Simcoe, I listened as Plum Johnson told us the story behind the story. As a pre-published author I was fascinated. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joan Almond
Book is a good read. Was purchased as a gift and was delivered promptly.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
wonderful book. Moving, touching, engaging. Close to home, having said goodbye to both of my parents during the last two years.Published 2 months ago by Linda Rauch
This was a good read, and excellent discussion material for a book club. Everyone can relate to some aspect of it. An it's Canadian too!Published 2 months ago by margaret lake
It was maudlin and had little to no self-awareness. Plum Johnson can write, though, so it was a disappointment rather than a failure.Published 3 months ago by Amazonian
It was a good read. I am experiencing this type of thing with my parents and it was a comparison of my feelings and the authors.Published 4 months ago by JeM