Book Talk: I'll Be Seeing You: A Memoir by Elizabeth Berg
“ Elizabeth Berg’s brave and beautiful memoir is proof that the heart, like a bone, can be broken and heal stronger. Unflinchingly honest, Berg walks into the tangled forest of sorrow and frustration familiar to anyone who’s had to contend with the end of their parents’s lives, and emerges with the understanding that love and loss are the two sides of any life well lived. You close this book reminded of our common humanity. The effect, which lingers, is something very much like grace.”
―Mark Slouka, author of Lost Lake and Essays from the Nick of Time
About the Book
The beloved New York Times bestselling author tells the poignant love story of caring for her parents in their final years in this beautifully written memoir.
Elizabeth Berg’s father was an Army veteran who was a tough man in every way but one: He showed a great deal of love and tenderness to his wife. Berg describes her parents’ marriage as a romance that lasted for nearly seventy years; she grew up watching her father kiss her mother upon leaving home, and kiss her again the instant he came back. His idea of when he should spend time away from her was never.
But then Berg’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease, and her parents were forced to leave the home they loved and move into a facility that could offer them help. It was time for the couple’s children to offer, to the best of their abilities, practical advice, emotional support, and direction—to, in effect, parent the people who had for so long parented them. It was a hard transition, mitigated at least by flashes of humor and joy. The mix of emotions on everyone’s part could make every day feel like walking through a minefield. Then came redemption.
I’ll Be Seeing You charts the passage from the anguish of loss to the understanding that even in the most fractious times, love can heal, transform, and lead to graceful—and grateful—acceptance.
Reviews & What Readers Say
“ Elizabeth Berg’s poignantly rendered I'll Be Seeing You shares with readers a story that is both highly personal and universally applicable. In bearing witness to her parents’ diminishing lives, and to the challenges these ‘setting suns’ present to their loving but taxed middle-aged children, Berg delivers a bittersweet account that is sad, loving, and completely authentic. To the author’s credit, nothing is sentimentalized here; we read about relentless late-in-life dependence, unanticipated changes in personality, the self-defeating instinct to isolate, and anger misdirected. Berg’s story allowed me to revisit and reflect on my own parents’ inevitable transformations during their last years, as well as my own exhausted and often less-than-perfect responses to what I could not control on their behalf. I’ll Be Seeing You moved me and broadened my understanding of the human condition.”
―Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much Is True
“ With her trademark compassion, humor, affirmation, and grace, Elizabeth Berg renders her own family’s experience in such a natural and bountiful way that it connects seamlessly to the reader’s own. It pierces, this book, in all the right places."
―Jessica Treadway, author of The Gretchen Question
“ It’s hard to know how to rescue someone. It’s hard to know how to help them in the way they need to be helped.’ With honesty and tenderness, Elizabeth Berg confronts the grief, frustration, and pain of seeing her parents through the difficult changes of aging. I’ll Be Seeing You is brave, sweet, angry, loving, unbearable, and absolutely necessary."
―Stewart O’Nan, author of Emily, Alone and Henry, Himself
“ For every daughter or son dealing with parents at the end of their lives and marriages, this book is a god send.It is real, frank, and loving in its portrayal of real life. Shepherding your parents later years is not for the faint of heart.Ms. Berg does it so well you can see yourself there, and I have been there. She is so right!"
―Carrie M., Amazon Reader's Review
“ I would highly recommend this memoir. Even if you aren't in a similar situation, the finely drawn descriptions and family interactions and conflicts will resonate with you. This is a wonderful memoir and well worth reading, and could help you in your own interactions with memory-challenged parents and other elders that you know and love."
―David Strom, Amazon Reader's Review
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Elizabeth Berg won the NEBA Award for fiction for her body of work, and was a finalist for the ABBY for Talk Before Steep. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, and the New York Times Magazine. She has also taught a writing workshop at Radcliffe College. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.