The end of life is always difficult. For Lorene Cary, going through the twists and turns of hospice care and sharing her home with her grandmother was an experience that took her years to write about.
Her book, Ladysitting: My Year with Nana and at the End of Her Century, is one of those reads that once you start, you can’t put down. The paperback of Ladysitting came out in June.
It details the complexities of caregiving in the black community. Cary’s book was featured in the Big Read for the Miami Book Fair. The Big Read began in March but then was put off until June because of COVID-19.
Instead of an in-person question and answer session with Miami-Dade students, Cary did the event over Crowdcast. Her virtual conversation with Miami Times managing editor Penny Dickerson took place on Juneteenth (June 19). The sessions still are available for viewing online.
She called her book Ladysitting, which is a pun for babysitting. Her grandmother was fiercely independent, a woman who managed her own business until she was 100.
It was not an easy book for her to write — the feelings were complicated as was the experience. As anyone who has gone through hospice care, it’s awful, wonderful and important all at the same time.
“If it weren’t difficult, I wouldn’t have waited seven years to start writing about it,” Cary said. “Looking at it and trying to understand it. Life that was so complicated and difficult that takes me years to understand it. And I can’t understand it unless I actually write it.”
Cary’s grandmother moved into her house after her grandmother was released from the hospital. Her grandmother could not be sent back to her own home because she could no longer live alone. For the next year-and-a-half, Cary and her family dealt with the difficulties and wonders of living with a feisty woman who lived a consequential life.
The relationship takes center stage, interspersed with Cary’s flashbacks to her growing up years and her relationship with her family.
“This is101 years of Nana’s experience of herself, her idea of race, the life she brought with her,” Cary said.
In writing the book, Cary learned more about her Nana’s father, who was secretary to Congressman George White, the last African American congressperson in 1902, after all the enthusiastic black voting was brought to a halt.
While Cary’s book is told from a black perspective, the emotions are universal. Being a caretaker is a difficult experience.
“Today, 54 million Americans are taking care of someone who is either on hospice or disabled.,” Cary said.
Marci Cancio-Bello, Miami Book Fair program coordinator said anyone can go back and watch Cary’s talk. The talk will remain on the Miami Book Fair website indefinitely.
“She’s a smart woman and excellent writer and a great storyteller,” Cancio-Bello sai .
Cary is the author of several books, including the memoir Black Ice, three novels, a book for young readers and a play, My General Tubman, which came out in January but had to close in March because of COVID-19.
She now is working on a project to increase the youth vote via social media, websites and blogs.
You can see Cary’s events by going to
Crowdcast at www.crowdcast.io/e/a-virtual-evening-with-lorne-cary orFacebook at www.facebook.com/MiamiBookFair/videos/727089194785827/.