To come to terms with her mother’s dementia, writer Suzanne Finnamore’s groundbreaking new memoir conceptualizes dementia as an actual, albeit rather magical, place, “like the Acropolis or Yonkers…a place where beloved and ancient queens and kings retire, where linear time doesn’t exist, and the rules of society are laid aside…. Whenever I go to my parents’ double-wide in Hayward, California, I am really traveling to Dementia.”
My Disappearing Mother: A Memoir of Magic and Loss is far more than a memoir on the devastation that comes with dementia, a cognitive impairment that affects 55 million people worldwide. Finnamore beautifully chronicles her mother’s rich and varied life journey, from her birth in Puerto Rico during the height of the Depression to ferrying to the United States, in hopes of a better life. On U.S. soil, her mother, Bunny, started working as a performer for enlisted men, then became a secretary, and eventually a professional clairvoyant. With unexpected humor, Suzanne explores the feeling of love, grief, family, and loss while celebrating the bonds between mothers and daughters.
In Suzanne’s words, “I want a book that attests to the fact that in a world full of disease, there is an abiding and supernatural force of love. That because of this, the sadness and the horror can be borne. That laughter can live alongside grief. That it must.” When Suzanne’s guest essay “Dementia Is a Place Where My Mother Lives. It Is Not Who She Is” was published in the New York Times on Mother’s Day 2022, readers responded with an outpouring of empathy and love. And so this book was born, full of clues and guidance to help others feel less alone on the path that Finnamore has walked.