We all die eventually, right? And, with a little luck – or not, depending on our state of health – we may live to a very old age. But most of us would prefer to be in denial about death, old age, debilitating illness, and any talk about the inevitable future. Roz Chast, cartoonist for The New Yorker, addresses these uncomfortable issues with grace and humor in her graphic novel/memoir – Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
If you have lived through the agonizing ritual of watching your elderly parents decline and die, Chast’s comments may offer some comfort when you realize you are not alone in your conflict of resentment vs caring. Issues of her parents’ slow decline, their resistance to change and to any discussion about change, despite their increasing inability to manage ordinary tasks – are handled with poignant humor. I laughed out loud at some of Chast’s punch lines, but also cringed a little at how close she had come to knowing how I had felt when dealing with my own 94 year old mother. Could it be Chast has discovered some universal truth about aging daughters with elderly parents?
Whether or not you have experienced Chast’s story of watching her parents age well into their nineties and die, her story of human behavior and parent-child relationships has the notes of humor, nostalgia, guilt, and love easily relatable to anyone. You may be crying at times – but mostly you will be laughing – maybe at yourself. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? has that Dr. Seuss quality of delivering truth with a good dose of reality, as you smile through the drawings and words of wisdom.