In a final search for a meaningful relationship with her mother, Alison Melotti-Cormack returns to her New Zealand roots and the small southern town of Oamaru to help her fiercely independent mother meet the end of her life with dignity. She discovers a frail and uncertain woman still able to cover her neediness with pragmatism and humor.
Alison also realizes that the barriers of silence and secrets within her family are intact and not about to be crossed. She has to learn once again how to love her mother in order to say goodbye to her. In traveling this very human journey, she revisits her own external exploration of the world, her absence from her family, and what it means to be a good daughter. Ultimately, it is the archetypal journey of a daughter returning home.
All travelers require sustenance and Melotti-Cormack infuses her memoir with the foods of her childhood and the memories held in her mother’s material possessions, which she must now dispose of or take to her American home.
Over the course of this last journey with her mother, Alison must come to terms with her own and her mother’s choices through a lens that is both personally intimate and broadly universal. This is a book that covers the territory of grief, loss, love, betrayal, and family relationships set against the quaint foreground of Oamaru, New Zealand, and the broader background of world history in the second half of the twentieth century.