Incontinent on the Continent

Jane Christmas’ third book, Incontinent on the Continent: My Mother, Her Walker, and Our Grand Tour of Italy, (published by Greystone Books) was a great book to take along on a trip, since it’s about a trip. Though mine wasn’t nearly as grand as hers was. Jane decides to try and make amends with her aging mother by taking her on a 6 week trip to Italy. What  a wonderful way to try and connect with a mother she felt alienated from and at odds with for most of her entire life. Mum loves art, architecture and antiques and there’s no better place to find them all than in Italy. Her father’s dying wish was “try and get along with your mother”. She said he might just as well have asked her to win the Nobel prize, that’s how daunting his request was. But it becomes obvious that this is not going to be any ordinary trip to Italy. Her mum is, as she says, “between 65 and 100” years old, has multiple medical problems (which require an enormous amount of prescription medication), uses a walker (and occasionally needs a wheelchair), and is not easy to get along with (she’s constantly telling Jane “do something with your hair”). Why Jane would even attempt this is a mystery to me!  Anything that sounds more like work than fun at my stage in life is given VERY serious consideration. And she often wonders the same thing on this romp through Italy. Travelling with a handicapped senior is like travelling with a small child – the same enormous quantity of stuff to lug around, early bedtimes, and lots of cranky moments where you just want to throw up your hands and go home. It’s a fun book though, except for the background of constant rain, and her observations often surprised me. Did they eventually “bond” like Jane had hoped they would?  Read it and see for yourself.

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