Inheritance from Mother author Minae Mizumura for the New York Times

When her novel, Inheritance from Mother, was first being serialized in Japan’s largest newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun, Minae Mizumura was inundated with letters from readers who identified with the frustration and exasperation she described feeling in taking care of her aging, ill mother. Mizumura recounts the experience for the New York Times:

TOKYO — It was the mad, busy time just before New Year’s, the most auspicious holiday of the year, when the hospital called to tell me that my mother had just been brought in by ambulance. She had slipped on the sidewalk and broken her shoulder and hip.

“Not again!” was all I could think as I rushed to the emergency room. I did not at first realize that the call marked the beginning of the end of what little independence my mother had left.

Despite five hours of surgery and two months of rehabilitation, she became wheelchair-bound and had to enter a nursing home. There, she slid rapidly into dementia, and became more difficult and demanding even as she grew frailer.

A year and a half later, she was back in the hospital with aspiration pneumonia. Day after day, I sat by her bedside, exhausted, while I struggled to finish work on a book for which the deadline was long past.

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