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They Left Us Everything: A Memoir Paperback – Mar 18 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (March 18 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143189050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143189053
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.8 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a lovely book about an adult daughter who spent a year living in her parents' house after their deaths. It's about the exhaustion that follows years of caregiving, childhood memories, discovering the identities your parents had as young people before you knew them and beyond the prism of your own understanding of them as a child. And it is about coming to terms with saying goodbye to your parents and their things. I read this as I cleared out my father's house within a month of his death. Many passages brought me to tears. But as the author described photographing all the objects that would be dispersed, it was also strangely comforting to know that I am not alone in seeing the symbolic importance of even the seemingly mist insignificant object. It is a book that will stay with you long after you read the last page.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Plum Johnson's book 'They Left us Everything'. I must say that I have not spent a more enjoyable couple of afternoons in a long time.
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
might have dismissed this wonderful book that my mother practically begged me to read. She saId that I’d love it and I did. My two sisters also could not put it down. We all found it familiar because it’s about a woman who must decide what to do with her beloved family homestead when her parents can no longer look after it. It’s a grand old house on the shores of Oakville, Ontario, Canada a small city where both my mother and sister each lived several decades apart. The local references were of great delight to us but this memoir would appeal to anyone.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Marvelous book. Anyone who is of a certain age with elderly family members, who are leaving their long time homes for smaller accommodations should make this mandatory reading. Although the task of cataloging and disposing of so many years' furnishings and collectibles was a daunting task, the author Plum Johnson wove the story with humour and grace. Along the way, she filled in the blanks about her eclectic parents and siblings. I was struck by the closeness and cooperation of this sister and her brothers in the closing of the home. Read and enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
This is a deeply moving memoir about a daughter who expecting a 6-week stay in her family home to put things in order after her mother passes, ends up on a life-changing two year journey where she peels away the layers of her family's life - one lesson at a time.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Plum Johnson, author of They Left Us Everything is a Baby Boomer raised in Oakville, Ontario. In 1952, her British veteran father and southern American mother landed in the village when it was little more than a farming community with a few stores and a tiny population. Her family bought a nineteenth century twenty-three-room lakefront home with eight bedrooms for a few thousand dollars. They were only the third family to occupy the house which had originally been built as a summer cottage and where her parents lived for sixty-five years.

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.
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