Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Mothers House - Mother Daughter Relationship Culminates In Tragedy In A Broken Health Care System

In MY MOTHER’S HOUSE, A Memoir, Alexa Wolf depicts a mother-daughter relationship which undergoes radical transformations during their shared half-century. Ms. Wolf’s mother combines conventional and holistic medicine to become a cancer survivor. Through that event, the hatred between the two women that began in Wolf’s teens turns to love and shared humor.

When Ms. Wolf contracts a mysterious virus, her mother extends her support. When Ms. Wolf’s mother shows signs of early Alzheimer’s, Wolf becomes her protector. But their story ends tragically when a common hip replacement surgery catapults Wolf’s mother into our for-profit health care system, specifically, in her case, the long term, skilled nursing care system, where she suffers unnecessarily and terribly, finally dying, due to the neglect and elder abuse endemic to that system.

“One of my goals with this book,” states Ms. Wolf, “is to illuminate what my mother and I had to endure, in the hopes that others might learn and avoid a similar catastrophe.” Those “others” include the majority of the elderly already in the system as well as many of the seventy million Boomers both looking after their parents now and coming up behind them.

At the beginning of her time in the hospital, Ms. Wolf’s mother referred to it as a metaphorical prison. A few months later she believed she was about to be executed for murdering her husband, and begged her daughter to believe in her innocence. Her metaphor had dissolved into her interior reality as she lay awash in drugs, infections, dementia and pain.

Ms. Wolf offers her own metaphor. “In archetypal symbolism, the dragon represents the system of power under which we live, in this case, for-profit health care. In the old stories, the dragon steals gold and eats virgins. Today, the for-profit health care system devours the innocent and steals the wealth of the nation.”

Coping with her grief, Wolf reveals the tragic mistakes she made and the knowledge she gained when trying desperately to save her mother from that system.

“But this memoir is unlike any other,” Ms. Wolf states, “because of its scope. There are many mother-daughter memoirs. There are books about the adult children of emotionally abusive parents, adult children of narcissistic parents, reconciliation between mothers and daughters, cancer survivor parents, taking care of elderly parents, and even memoirs about parents in the nursing care system. However, there are no memoirs about a mother and daughter whose 55-year relationship includes all of the above in an arc of profound change which occurs as a result of the health crises the mother and daughter face.”

"A heart-wrenching story of a daughter's struggle to care for her dying mother while coping with her own debilitating illness,” says Eve La Salle Caram, award-winning editor, novelist, Senior Instructor in Fiction Writing, The Writers' Program, UCLA Extension. “An indictment of our health care system. Powerful. Moving. Beautifully written."

Michael Connors, of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), calls Wolf’s book “very moving.” He adds, “Unfortunately... (on) a daily basis we hear heartbreaking tales of neglect and abuse...”

Author Alexa Wolf began her writing career by winning first place in a poetry contest for her age group and a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony. She has written for the L.A. Weekly, Psychological Perspectives and The New York Native. She has appeared on The Today Show, a Dan Rather special, Oprah! in Time Magazine, and elsewhere. This is her first book. She is available for interview by contacting her at the address below.

My Mother's House – A Memoir
Infinity Publishing
ISBN 0-7414-3520-9
Available at

Alexa Wolf