Where memories go is part autobiography, part memoir, part biography and part social comment. Sally Magnusson is clear in attributing her siblings, children and relatives with the positive way the whole family managed the illness of Mamie Magnusson, her mother. Mamie was a journalist, mother, grandmother and feisty individual whom we came to know more rather than less as the disease took hold.
Alzheimer’s Disease is cruel, relentless and unrelenting in its progress, but this book manages to give hope in the darkness, whilst at the same time commenting on the effects of dementia of all kinds worldwide. There is a way to triumph in the sense of someone having the best death possible. Yes, Mamie had the benefits of a comfortably off and articulate family unit around her. But her daughter does not shirk the responsibility of looking at the dark side of elderly care in the UK as well as elsewhere.
This week there have been further reports of abuse of patients and residents of care homes and there have been employees sacked for misconduct.. But what the story tells me, is that our society can be measured by the way we deal with such situations and the way that we struggle to ensure safety and security for elderly and fragile people approaching the end of their lives in the darkness of dementia.
I almost don’t like to rate this book, so perhaps I should just say that it could not be any better, always remembering the context in which it is written. The best thing I can say is that I am already re-reading it, for the sheer pleasure of sharing in a life lived to the full.