Breath by Breath:

Growing Up during My Mother's Polio Years,

1954-1967

    

     BREATH BY BREATH is a daughter’s memoir of care-giving to a mother with deep limb and respiratory paralysis, from 1954 to 1967, in Detroit.

 

     At the age of four, she walks through a hospital basement of rubber pipes, duct tape, and oil to take the service elevator up to the polio floor, and later she must battle strange housekeepers, inept nurses, breathing machines and suction apparatus.  She helps her mother “draw on” her lipstick in preparation for visits from a dwindling number of friends, including a “brainwashed” priest.  

 

     In a contrast of beauty and frustrations, the girl dreams up fairy tales under a pear tree, yet tears at her clothes and bites washcloths in anger at her mother’s reality.  It is a childhood of deciding what is of value in a world where one’s mother would die any day.  It is a fearful and tangible dance with death.

 

     “… shows how a child can survive by acknowledging the creativity of her deepest soul.” -- Linda S. Griggs, author of Scenes from a Hero Quest.

 

     “… Anna Marie’s memoir has the depth and lyricism of her best poetry.”   -- Alison Ragsdale, author of The Father-Daughter Club and Finding Heather.

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        The memoir Breath by Breath first appeared in modern epic poem form, in 1990, as “Stabat Mater.”