Reader Comments

Comments from readers who have read Lucky That Way:

“..every family is its own planet, spinning in the universe, struggling to steady its orbit.” Pamela Gerhardt, I read your book Lucky That Way last night and I want to thank you for sharing your planet. I didn’t read it with great sadness, as I thought I would, but with a calm in knowing that I’m not alone. Not alone in the crushing exhaustion of coping with the crises that often accompany the final chapter of a parent’s life – the weekend trips back and forth, the numbness we have to allow in order to put one foot in front of the other, the sibling dynamics and fluid roles we all play, the funny and tender moments that we hold onto as a lifeline, the hospitals, rehabs and nursing homes, the horrifying feeling we get every time we have to leave them knowing that it may be the last kiss, the last touch. The planet you wrote of was almost identical to mine…we are all doing the best we can and yes, we are lucky to have these beautiful, crazy families. – sent by a reader on 3/3/2014

Lucky That Way is a brilliantly written, heartwarming, funny, frankly honest, and sometimes emotional interpretation of life as a grown-up child when a parent’s needs become almost child-like. As a caregiver of my own Mother for three years I not only grieve with you but empathize, as well. Please know you did right by your father in the end. If he had wanted you there at the end, he would have made sure you were. You were his little girl. He thought you needed his protection from the not so violent end is all. Thank you for sharing you and your gift of writing. – sent by a reader on 3/3/2014 

I finished your lovely, insightful, and compassionate book. My parents, both alive at age 80 and in good health, are still facing the inevitable diminution of senses and skills that age brings (or that a stroke or other debilitating disease enforces).  I wrote once for a eulogy of a great teacher that: “When you speak from a deeply individual, profoundly personal place you run the danger of speaking only to yourself about yourself and Buck [Offutt–a hero of mine who taught me English at DeMatha] would despise that—but if you dig down far enough into the personal you may speak universal truths. That paradox, that the personal can be universal, is just one of the paradoxes that helps explain Buck’s genius.” I think that what you have done is drill down into the personal until you have reached the universal–and that is a heck of an accomplishment. — sent by a reader on 19/12/2013

I just finished your book and absolutely loved it. I really felt like you let us into your family and into a very private space. I came away with so many lessons and things to think about. Thank you for that. — sent by a reader on 6/12/2013

I’m reading your book just a little bit at a time. I do that for two reasons, like when I like a book so much that I parcel it out to make it last longer, and when it’s so poignant and painful that I quite often just have to get some air…my own parents are 82 and 86…Just wanted you to know how much your book likely resonates with so many readers.  – Sent by a reader on 30/10/2013

Just finished reading “Lucky That Way.”  It’s a really good read, full of details that so beautifully capture the feeling of the moment. There’s a trope for that — when the part stands in for the whole — but I can’t remember the name just now. It’s also, of course, very affecting. So much of what you write about resonated for me, and I presume will do so for any boomer dealing with aging parents.      –Sent by a reader on 17/10/2013

I read your book tonight….for the last 30 or so years, I’ve tucked away all the memories of my Dad’s last days and now they’re all flooding back… your book helped me to put it in some perspective.  Thank you.Sent by a reader on 31/10/2013

This was a great read. So well written with a perfect mixture of humor and pathos. It is easy to relate to the characters and the situations. The author really gets to the heart of family dynamics as we age, drift apart, and back together. Many laugh out loud moments in the very real interactions. I wish more memoirs had this much emotional honesty and wonderment. – Amazon review 7/10/2013

An engaging memoir about family, aging and death that reads like a novel. Pam has an amazing eye for details the rest of us miss. If you don’ get a tear at some point in reading this book, you are stronger than I am. Highly recommended.  Amazon review  11/10/2013

I love-love-loved your book. Everything about it. It was so easy for me to see and feel it all– I read the whole book this past weekend, and it was something that l was delighted to pick up when I had a bit of time…I enjoyed it immensely and was wistful when it was done…what a blessing it seems that you had this time with [your father] to reestablish your unique bond with him. He was a larger than life character who made a lot of lives richer, even those who only had fleeting encounters with him.  Sent by a reader on 10/10/2013

Started your book last night. Finished it a few minutes ago. It did not disappoint…Thank you for sharing your family’s story.  Sent by reader on 27/10/2013

Thank you! I needed your book. I truly laughed through it (between the tears).   Sent by reader on 10/17/2013

I knew if I opened your book and it was good, two things would happen. One, I would read it in one sitting and – two- I would cry at some point.  Both happened.  Sent by a reader on 10/7/2013

The story that you share is so powerful…I want you to know that I will be recommending this book to every person I know, every person I meet, and any person who will listen because there is no one who would not be better off for having read your story…On behalf of everyone who reads this book, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us.     Sent on 6/11/2013 by a young intern at University of Missouri Press who was proofreading the manuscript and was so moved by it that he sent this note to me.

The story is at once very personal—we come to understand [the family’s] quirks and needs—and nearly universal, as many of us in the Baby Boom generation have been forced to deal with elderly, dying parents. The manuscript thoughtfully (though not ponderously) addresses a number of extremely important philosophical and ethical questions: What responsibilities do adult children bear for their elderly parents? What is a good death? What happens to sibling and other familial relationships in times of crisis? Beyond these questions, it also raises significant social and political issues about the paucity of adequate services for ill and elderly citizens…Above all, however, this is a story about love: not only [the author’s] undeniable and quite touching love for her sometimes difficult, sometimes charming father, but also his love for his family members. It will speak very strongly a wide range of readers.  The author vividly renders the events with many well-chosen details, and the manuscript displays a terrific eye and a nice ear for dialogue. These techniques, along with a good deal of lively humor, help to brighten what could be a depressing story… Written in a crisp, engaging style the story welcomes the reader and sustains an honest, intimate voice almost without fail.  – Review from a reader at University of Missouri Press. This was his recommendation that the book be published.


Comments sent from readers after an excerpt of the book was published in 2010 in The Washington Post. These letters, more than 20 of them, inspired me to write the book:

–So enjoyed your article – so timely for me with an 82-year-old mother.  The piece flowed so easily, and I chuckled out loud more than a few times. I am sorry for your loss- but I know you are happy that you had those moments together with your dad. Sounds like he was quite a character.

–Your article was the best I have read in a while.  You had  me with the paragraph about the female problem.  Where was the bar? … Even I (not an artist) can tell how ugly the nursing homes are with the turquoise and maroon paisley.  Why do the decorators for geezer-dwellings (and dentists) think ugly art is soothing?  I shall keep thinking of He-hab and of you all laughing.   

–I started reading your article about your father’s recovery from a Fitness Professional’s point of view. I continued to read as the human angle,  and the pathos of the situation gripped me.  And I am now doing something I’ve never done before – writing to the author of an article.

Your article brought me to tears with memories…Thank you for your heartfelt article. It brought back so much of the happiness despite the pain.

–I have just read your moving story of a family touched by stroke…I was also fascinated in the clinical remarks you made. I am presently teaching Art to brain-injured adults and am experiencing a whole new world of expression. Basically, what can happen is, after stroke there are students who never drew or painted that suddenly have not only interest but actual skill in drawing! The neuro has been explained to me. As the brain recovers there are astonishing leaps of improvement in the first few months, etc. Parts of the brain are stimulated, or connected, that were not dominant before.

–When I read that your Father was an artist for his lifetime, still retained his critical thinking on the subject, it caught my eye at once. I am now wondering if you noticed any shift in his artistic responses….. These stroke students are the most interesting class I have ever had. I don’t usually write to authors, but your article gave me courage. Thank you.

–I so enjoyed your article in the Post about your Dad….and I thought your observation about life going in curves was very insightful, I had never thought about it that way before. I thought is was like the song, ” The Circle of Life,” but in fact I think curves is closer to the truth. I am sorry to read that your Dad died in April, that is a tough loss, and I hope your brother and sister are doing ok. And I think your book about your Dad is going to be wonderful.