Reviews of "While They're Still Here: A Memoir" by Patricia Williams
"According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 21% of the U.S. population is providing care for an aging family member. Author Patricia Williams was surprised to find herself in this situation when she became a full-time caregiver for both her parents in 2003. A retired dental hygienist, Patricia had a strained relationship with them, complicated by alcoholism and infidelity.
So, it was with grace, acceptance, and a little bit of humor that Patricia uproots her parents and moves them closer to her, fully expecting to say good-bye within months. Instead, this delightful book chronicles the next ten years as the author not only serves as caregiver for her parents, but discovers a rich family history that goes a long ways towards explaining their emotional wounds.
What began as notes to her brother turned into paragraphs, and ultimately While They're Still Here, a book that becomes a sort of tribute to the elderly couple. This poignant memoir is a wonderful example of a caregiving experience, in that it doesn't shy away from the difficult truths. Despite the challenges inherent in her upbringing, the author remained respectful of her parents at all times. The reader can't help but admire the elderly couple as they face one medical crisis after another, or the author as she comes to their aid. By book's end, it is clear that despite the difficulties inherent in caregiving, the author looked at those years as a gift. This book is a must-read for anyone facing a similar situation, but you don't have to have cared for an elderly parent to appreciate this author's journey."
- by Mary Potter Kenyon March 6, 2018
for Story Circle Book Reviews
To see the full review on Story Circle, go to
“Where do I even begin after walking down such a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, terrifying, and hopeful Memory Lane with the author? I would like to try to jot down all the thoughts that crossed my mind and heart while reading this amazing memoir. While They're Still Here: A Memoir is more than just a book. It is a mirror that will encourage you to cherish your parents while they are still here."
— Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite
To see this review on Readers' Favorite, go to
"The unexpected responsibilities of being her parents’ full-time caregiver bring a dutiful daughter not only heavy burdens, but new revelations about her family as well.
A phone call from Williams’ half sister Linda signals it’s finally time to help her aging parents pack up and sell their house in Englewood, Florida, and move to her neighborhood in Olympia, Washington, to aid them in their twilight years. So begins this debut memoir,
“While They’re Still Here is filled with heartwarming love for aging parents whose hidden life-stories and engaging personalities gradually come into view under the devoted care their daughter provides as they decline. The daughter/author’s enlightening and delightful discoveries are yours too as you are invited into the intimacy of their world. The writing is nothing short of excellent and makes what could be a depressing subject a page turner as the caregiver faces a myriad challenges to ensure the best possible living circumstances she can provide or arrange for her loved ones. You are rooting for her and her beloved parents until the inevitable end.”
— Marcia Mabee, Winner of a 2016 Nautilus Award for her book, Naked Mountain.
"A cross-country move; a family history of avoiding difficult topics; two elderly parents with significant medical issues who are reluctant to let go of their past life - these are among the many challenges facing Williams as she steps into the role of caretaker for her parents, but she dons her imaginary uniform with courage, even as she is kept awake by her concerns. In this frank memoir, she takes the reader along for every medical emergency, tense conversation, and difficult decision, beginning with packing up her parents' home in Florida and maaging their move to an apartment in Washington, just across the street from her. Although her parents have a dark history that includes alcoholism and infidelity, Williams finds that this time together allows her to explore their memories in a new way, learning things about their past that she never knew, as all three work to understand their new roles. With compassion and honest, Williams shares how she navigated the complex journey with her parents during the last chapter of their lives."
— Bridget Thoreson, Booklist Review, October 15, 2017.
"A refreshingly candid, poignant memoir that lays bare the physical and emotional costs of care, While They’re Still Here powerfully demonstrates the lengths we go to ensure the health and safety of our aging parents. Williams’ writing is stark and lucid, her well-crafted anecdotes filled with compassion even as her life is upended and her caregiving duties mount. Her book reminds us of the ability we all have to redefine our lives and our relationship with our parents—and to savor the time we have left with them."
—Jana Panarites, author of Scattered: My Year As An Accidental Caregiver
“The emotional roller coaster of caring for an aging parent is not an easy ride. Baby boomers—the population riding that train right now—often find themselves trying to balance respect for a parent’s intelligence and independence with providing for his or her safety and security. It is a juggling act of epic proportions. In While They’re Still Here, that juggling act is an emotional tribute to self-sacrifice and a daughter’s unfailing love for her parents. To the author’s credit, it also glimpses the depth of understanding of her family and self that Williams achieved during this formidable experience. This book is written with honesty, humility, and love, and will remind anyone involved in caring for an elderly parent that you are not alone in your labor of love.”
—Sandra Bullock Smith, award-winning author of Trading Places: Becoming My Mother’s Mother
“In her new memoir, While They’re Still Here, author Patricia Williams writes about the ultimate role reversal. Her role as a loving daughter is slowly upended as she becomes a lifeline and caregiver for her aging parents as they try to negotiate the daily challenges that overturn their lives and hers. The role of caregiver is one many of us must face. Williams candidly shares the intimate and rewarding moments along with the fears and unexpected burdens that go along with this complex relationship. The reader will empathize and learn from her experience and will take away familiar themes they can learn from and that will stay with them.”
—Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW, patient advocate and award-winning author of Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents
“Trish Williams, as a responsible and dutiful daughter, weaves an engaging story of the struggles and painful moments in caring for her aging parents. But she doesn’t stop there. With humor and insight, she gives the reader a clear and compassionate view of their lives, including those sweet moments that make them more lovable in spite of themselves. She also shares her difficulties and frustrations in her role as ‘the responsible one.’ Of course, the irresponsible child would never have written the book!”
—Rosalie Thomas, RN, PhD