The adventure begins when Meg’s mother, Addie, vacationing in Florida, takes a spill. At the hospital, Addie bolts upright on her gurney and yells “I demand an autopsy!” before passing out cold.
“One minute, she is unconscious, the next, she’s nuts,” observes Meg Federico in this hilarious and poignant memoir of taking care of eighty-year-old Addie and her relatively new (and equally old) husband, Walter, in their not-so-golden years.
Addie’s accident is a portent of things to come over the next two years as Meg oversees her mother’s home care in the Departure Lounge, the nickname Meg gives Addie and Walter’s house in suburban New Jersey. It is a place of odd behaviors and clashing caregivers, where chaos and confusion reign supreme.
Meg had expected that Addie and Walter would settle into a Rockwellian dotage of docile dependency. Instead the pair regress into terrible teens. Meg watches from the sidelines in disbelief as her mother and stepfather, forbidden by doctors to drink, conspire to order cases of scotch by phone; as Addie’s attendant accuses the evening staff of midnight voodoo; as the increasingly demented Walter’s sex drive becomes unbridled and mail-order sex aids are delivered to the front door. Meg jumps in to cope with the pandemonium–even as she struggles to manage her own family back in Nova Scotia.
With a fresh voice and a keen eye for the absurd, Meg Federico writes a story that will resonate with the generation now caring for their parents. Welcome to the Departure Lounge is a moving and madcap chronicle of a family–their moments of joy, the memories they’d rather forget, and the just plain loopiness of their situation. “How’s life at the Departure Lounge?” Meg’s brother asks. Meg doesn’t know where to start. “Let’s just say the drinks are outrageous, and they never run out of nuts.”
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Family & Relationships eBook: Welcome to the Departure Lounge|
|Release Date: 02-10-2009|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Welcome to the Departure Lounge
I DEMAND AN AUTOPSY!
I was sitting at my desk plowing through bills when the phone rang. My stepsister, Cathy, never called unless we had “problems.” Her father, Walter Huber (age eighty-two), and my mother, Addie Henry (age eighty-one), after a dramatic and sometimes bruising courtship, married a few years ago. Not one of the eight offspring (me and my four siblings, Cathy and her two) in our newly blended family was pleased about this union, but there was nothing we could do about it. After all, our parents were grown-ups.
At present, Addie and Walter were escaping the New Jersey winter, vacationing in West Palm Beach, Florida, where, Cathy informed me, Mom stumbled and fell and hit her head on the curb. A stranger, seeing the two old people in a state of emergency (a fairly common sight in Florida), kindly called an ambulance for Mom and packed Walter into a taxi.
The ambulance paramedic, recoiling from Mother’s ninety-proof breath, scribbled etoh all over her medical forms. etoh is medical jargon for ethanol. In Mom’s case, it meant martinis.
While Mom was out cold, the ER staff tried to pry information out of Walter, who was upset and couldn’t remember anything. Suddenly, Mom sat bolt upright on the gurney and yelled, “I demand an autopsy!” before passing out again.
“I’m not getting an autopsy!” Walter roared. “You have to be dead to get an autopsy!” Apparently, after the nurses got him calmed down, they shipped him off to an emergency Alzheimer’s unit (which they also have in Florida), where he had been locked up for three days before he finally