Scattering Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go
by Joan Z. Rough

She Writes Press, 2016. ISBN 978-6-315-20952-1.
Reviewed by Jude Whelley
Posted on 08/31/2016

Nonfiction: Memoir

Joan Rough had a complicated relationship with her mother. When she decided to take her into her home and care for her during the final years of her mother's life, Rough hoped for a healing experience. She hoped they would finally bond and have some quality time together.

Instead repressed memories of childhood abuse surface and her mother's cantankerous and narcissistic behavior make it challenging for Joan to even remain pleasant to her mother. Rough's dream of reconciliation fails miserably. But she soldiers on.

It is as if Rough has tucked us into her pocket and we are allowed to observe her days as she experiences them. She is unflinchingly honest, sugarcoating nothing. She describes her own failings and lack of patience as well as the tender moments that surface at the most unexpected times.

After her mother's death, Rough has to make a decision about what to do with her mother's ashes and how to let go of the legacy of pain she carries. She shares her "Letting-Go" rituals, each one taking her closer to forgiving herself and her mother and finding peace.

Anyone who has a difficult relationship with a parent, is a caregiver for a parent, or yearns to find peace in the aftermath of a traumatic relationship with a parent will resonate with the truths Joan Rough shares.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Joan Z. Rough is a visual artist, poet, and writer of nonfiction. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals and are included in the anthology, Some Say Tomatoes by Mariflo Stephens. Her first book, Australian Locker Hooking: A New Approach to a Traditional Craft, was published in 1980. She lives in Charlotte, Virginia. Visit her website.

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