Book Review – Love and Care by Shaun Deeney

First published, 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

In this memoir, Shaun Deeney, former journalist and handyman, returns to England from France, to take his mother out of a care facility and bring her back to the family home in the wake of her husband’s death.

As Shaun moves on from his divorce and with his children grown, he embarks on the hazardous journey of caring for his mother, who has dementia. Assisted by many able carers and with friends and family regularly on the phone, Shaun relishes his time with his mother but watches in astonishment as his world becomes smaller and smaller. But there’s no one quite like one’s mother, and they’ll never have this time again.

It’s very well-written. I was worried about reading this one as I was a carer to my mother for eleven years. I was concerned that, in reading about someone else’s experience, a whole slew of painful memories and things I’d sooner not think about would come flooding back. I was wrong. Although, of course, the main thrust of the book is a man caring for his mother – it’s also a story of finding oneself in middle-age, of a man connecting with his family, both past and present, it’s a story of not giving up.

In Love and Care, we get to know the story of a very nice, very kind man, not without flaws but a generally good guy, who takes on a remarkably difficult challenge. To try to help as you watch someone you love getting sicker, getting infections, receiving treatment and being talked about as if they’re not there, is very hard going. As Mr. Deeney says:

“As a carer, or trainee carer, it’s difficult, impossible really, to express the odd combination of constant visitations and complete isolation your life comprises, with every day just like every other, with your own existence reduced to that of a functionary, a bit player, an amateur among professionals, a man among women, and a novice in a hermetic world where carers, as the name implies, simply care, their lives dedicated to the service of others.
“Still, I’m glad I tried. Nothing comes from nothing, and in trying, I may just have made a friend.
“Perhaps that’s enough.”
p123-124, Chapter Eight, Love and Care by Shaun Deeney

A very thoughtful book. Well worth a read.