Author: Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Narrator: Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Published: April 2016, Blackstone Audio
Length: 5 hours 26 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible
Many know Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the bride in the popular Steve Martin remakes of the Father of the Bride movies, the calculating Peggy Kenter on Nashville, or the wife of country music artist, Brad Paisley. But behind the scenes, Kim was dealing with a tragic secret: her mother, Linda, was suffering from a rare form of dementia that slowly crippled her ability to talk, write and eventually recognize people in her own family.
Where the Light Gets In tells the full story of Linda’s illness—called primary progressive aphasia—from her early-onset diagnosis at the age of 62 through the present day. Kim draws a candid picture of the ways her family reacted for better and worse, and how she, her father and two siblings educated themselves, tried to let go of shame and secrecy, made mistakes, and found unexpected humor and grace in the midst of suffering.
Ultimately the bonds of family were strengthened, and Kim learned ways to love and accept the woman her mother became. With a moving foreword by actor and advocate Michael J. Fox, Where the Light Gets In is a heartwarming tribute to the often fragile yet unbreakable relationships we have with our mothers.
My thoughts: When I first saw this book, I knew I had to pick it up even though I don't normally read non-fiction. I am a huge fan of Kimberly Williams-Paisley, but more so, I was drawn to the subject of the book itself.
This is such a beautifully written, yet powerful and moving, account of the struggle that Kimberly and her family have been dealing with as they learn to accept their new normal with Kimberly's mother's illness - primary progressive aphasia, a form of dementia. She is very candid with all the mistakes that they made early on, yet what is most striking is the strength of this family's love and how ultimately they all got on the same page and came together for Linda. It wasn't easy - it still isn't, but they make it work!
This book is emotional and powerful. I was laughing and crying all the way through - and while I may not be in Kimberly's position at this time in my life - there may very well come a time that I do find myself there and I can only hope that I can carry myself with the same grace and compassion that she did. Yes, there were times that she was frustrated - but more so at the situation than at the person. This is a terrible illness and there is so much that is unknown about it. But I think the one important thing that Kimberly makes so clear is that what we need to do in this situation is remember that we cannot focus on what we and the person afflicted is losing but rather what they can still enjoy and do, and what we can still learn from that person. This simple shift, while not easy, will still allow that person and the family to live a complete life.
This book is definitely a keeper - it's one that while I have in audio form, I do plan to revisit just because I feel it has those little nuggets of wisdom.
Audio thoughts: I loved that Kimberly Williams-Paisley narrated this book herself. There are times when I've listened to an author narrate their own book and it works and there are times when it doesn't work, but in this case, since it was such a personal story, she was able to bring her own feelings into the telling of it - without going overboard or without being detached. It was genuine, it was heartfelt and it just felt right.