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Book details
  • SubGenre:Parenting / Parent & Adult Child
  • Language:English
  • Pages:202
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667882475

The Ambivalent Daughter

Memoir of a Conflicted Caregiver

by Bethanie Gorny

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"The Ambivalent Daughter: Memoir of a Conflicted Caregiver" by Bethanie Gorny is the compelling story of a mother and daughter struggling to adjust to new circumstances after the mother has a severe stroke and moves to a nursing home. Bethanie assumes responsibility for overseeing the care of her octogenarian mother who has become completely disabled. The author describes the impact on her marriage, her career, and her relationship with her sister.  She visits her mother daily to keep her spirits up and oversee her care. She is candid about the guilt and the emotional stress she feels and is unflinchingly honest about her problematic relationship with her mother. The mother and daughter have not been close and feel ambivalent about each other.  How they navigate the new situation and arrive at a better understanding and appreciation of each other is heartwarming.  Her involvement in her mother's life exposes her to common problems in nursing home care and she becomes a fervent advocate determined to improve her mother's life in the nursing home.  Aging parents will gain insights into the dynamics of adult children caring for their parents. Those who have cared for an aging parent will identify with this poignant story.  For those who have not yet had the experience of being caregivers for their aging parents, it can help to prepare them for the challenges and the rewards.  


"The Ambivalent Daughter: Memoir of a Conflicted Caregiver" by Bethanie Gorny is the compelling story of a mother and daughter struggling to adjust after the mother has a severe stroke. Suddenly Bethanie is faced with the need to assume responsibility for the care of her octogenarian mother who has become completely disabled. The two strong, independent women have never gotten along which complicates matters. Gertrude needs total care and moves to a nursing home near her daughter. Bethanie is a professor who is dedicated to her career and her husband. Their children are grown, and they are enjoying the freedom to live life with less responsibility. Gertrude becomes angry and despondent about how her life has turned out. She served as a nurse in WW II and later worked in hospitals in the states. Now she finds she has lost all her independence in the residential setting where everything is lockstep. Bethanie visits her mother daily to keep her spirits up and oversee her care. She observes nursing home practices that do not serve the best interests of her mother and becomes a fervent advocate for changes in the care her mother receives. She insists that her mother's emotional needs be addressed and as well as her medical ones and that more individualization of care be implemented. Through her reflections on the past, the reader gains insight into the reasons for Bethanie's ambivalence. She feels increasingly torn between the needs of her mother, her husband, and her career and begins to show signs of stress and depression. Her only sibling lives far away and feels frustrated that she cannot be more involved in her mother's care causing dissension between the sisters. They learn to compromise and work together to care for their mother. Bethanie's husband is supportive, but Bethanie feels guilty about how much time has been taken from their relationship by her mother's needs. The action takes place over one year and is divided into short chapters highlighting critical events. The heart of the book is the interaction between the mother and daughter. The stroke serves as a catalyst for positive changes in their relationship. The constant interaction between the two, helps them to finally understand and appreciate each other. Adult children coping with their aging parents' health problems will identify with the story and gain perspective and fresh ideas on how to cope and what to expect. This book is highly relevant as people live longer and many find themselves in the same circumstances. It is the emotional and tender story of a mother and daughter facing the challenges that confront them with courage insight, and love.

About the author

Bethanie Gorny holds a master's degree in Learning Disabilities and a Doctorate in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. She has held positions of special education teacher, child study team director, and director of special education. She was an assistant professor of special education at Rowan University, NJ. She has given numerous workshops and presentations on the subject of the inclusion of people with disabilities in the mainstream of society. Her belief in inclusion is one of the themes in her book, The Ambivalent Daughter: Memoir of a Conflicted Caregiver. Since retiring she has been writing on a full-time basis. She joined writing groups at Florida Atlantic University and at the Kravis Center, Palm Beach, FL. Her essays and short stories have been published online and in print journals, including The Atlantic City Press, The Jewish Literary Journal, Florida Writer Magazine, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Jewish,, The Wild Word, and others. She won first prize in the 2019 Royal Palm Literary competition for a short nonfiction story. Her first book "Fridays with Eva" is available on Amazon.  She and her husband live in Boynton Beach, Florida. She enjoys golf, reading, running book clubs, and involvement in advocacy efforts for seniors.

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