Picks and Pans Review: A Necessary End

UPDATED 05/30/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/30/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Nick Taylor

While it is virtually impossible to ignore the graying of America, few are prepared lo deal with its consequences. And with good reason: It's often not easy, as Taylor's memoir movingly demonstrates. This well-crafted book is a year-by-year chronicle of the author's emotional journey as he watches his parents go down the unrelenting path of old age.

A Necessary End begins in 1983 when Taylor, a New York City-based freelance writer, receives a letter from his mother containing the obituaries she has already written for herself and his father, both then healthy and in their mid-70s. This harbinger of his parents' death deeply affects Taylor.

When they retire to Mexico, he worries about them for the first lime, and as the years pass and they become increasingly edgy and infirm, he is forced to take responsibility and move them to a Fort Myers, Fla., nursing home, where they will both die within a year.

Taylor accepts his parents' impending death as a fact of life. "It is the passage toward death," he writes, "that provides the drama, that is harder and more painful than death itself." A Necessary End is the poignant story of how Taylor coped with that passage and with all the attendant strain of learning to care for parents who, in old age, become as dependent as children. (Doubleday, $15)

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