A beautiful and simply told memoir of one winter in Elizabeth Cohen's life when she is left alone to care for her tiny baby Ava and her 80-year-old father who has Alzheimer's.
"Daddy walks around, dropping pieces of language behind him, the baby following, picking them up. He asks for 'the liquid substance from the spigot'. She asks for 'wawa'. He wants a tissue to wipe his 'blowing device'. She says 'Wipe, Mummy' and points to her runny nose. The brain of my father and the brain of my daughter have crossed. On their ways to opposite sides of life, they have made an X - On his way out of life, Daddy has passed her the keys."
Soon after her daughter's first birthday, her husband walked out of their rambling old house in the country, leaving Elizabeth to come to terms with his absence and her new role as carer to a growing, demanding child, and a shrinking, demanding father. Elizabeth has no choice but to be the rock at the centre of her new, unusual family. Amidst the chaos of the house on Beartown Road, she discovers a new beauty in being in the middle of two universal stages of life and learning. She watches the growth of her baby Ava, hungrily learning about the world around her, and at the other extreme her father, trying to hold on to the fragments of his memory, fighting a losing battle against forgetting, but despite it all, capable of learning. And she begins to learn about herself, as someone who is strong, courageous and capable of looking after her family.
Beautifully written, this book is a homage to the reality of family life.