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They left us everything : a memoir
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Family relationships
Death of a parent
Personal narratives
- Canada
- International
Time Period
-- 20th-21st century
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  Publishers Weekly Review

An eclectic family and their long-time family home, both rich with history and depth, provide the backdrop for a candid memoir by Johnson, a Toronto-based author, entrepreneur and publisher. Chronicling Johnson's personal journey after the death of her mother, the book follows her 16-month quest to empty the labyrinthine family home, brimming with the archaeological melange of generations, and navigate the emotional fallout of their conflicted relationship. Unearthed family treasures spark memories and fill blanks, from Johnson's childhood with an authoritative British father constantly at odds with her free-spirited Southern-Belle mother to her adulthood spent caring for them as their bodies and minds deteriorated. At times heartbreaking and at others hysterically funny, Johnson's memories propel the narrative from volatile mid-century Singapore to a sprawling, colonial-era Virginia estate and beyond, but always settle back to the rambling family home on the shores of Lake Ontario; a place "seared into their bones." Though it can be undirected and chronologically disjointed, suggesting a highly reflective writing process, the book's descriptive prose brings these places and people to life and poignantly conveys the quasi-spiritual journey that helps Johnson overcome her grief. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A warm, heartfelt memoir of family, loss, and a house jam-packed with decades of goods and memories.<br> <br> After almost twenty years of caring for elderly parents--first for their senile father, and then for their cantankerous ninety-three-year old mother--author Plum Johnson and her three younger brothers have finally fallen to their middle-aged knees with conflicted feelings of grief and relief. Now they must empty and sell the beloved family home, twenty-three rooms bulging with history, antiques, and oxygen tanks. Plum thought: How tough will that be? I know how to buy garbage bags. <br> <br> But the task turns out to be much harder and more rewarding than she ever imagined. Items from childhood trigger difficult memories of her eccentric family growing up in the 1950s and '60s, but unearthing new facts about her parents helps her reconcile those relationships, with a more accepting perspective about who they were and what they valued.<br> <br> They Left Us Everything is a funny, touching memoir about the importance of preserving family history to make sense of the past, and nurturing family bonds to safeguard the future.
Table of Contents
Never Mind, the Dogp. 1
Part IEndings
Mum's Willp. 23
Hornet's Nestp. 35
Point O' Viewp. 49
Dancing Till the Endp. 73
Good-bye, Mump. 83
Part IIInheritance
Other Mothersp. 93
Unpacking the Pastp. 99
A Fate Worse Than Deathp. 131
Appraisalsp. 149
Buried Treasurep. 157
Part IIIDispersal
Two Weddings and a Funeralp. 181
Dividing What Remainsp. 193
Earthquakep. 201
Careful What You Wish Forp. 225
Separationp. 237
Hong Kong Farewellp. 263
One Last Lookp. 275
Acknowledgmentsp. 277
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