As Long as I Know You

The Mom Book

Anne-Marie Oomen

Selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

As Long as I Know You

The Mom Book

Anne-Marie Oomen

Selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

The story of one daughter’s journey to her mother’s heart

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Writer Pam Houston once summed it up: “Nice mother-daughter stories are a dime a dozen; pain-in-the-ass mother-daughter stories are the ones that grab us.” As Long as I Know You is a compelling read for any adult grappling with a living elder who might also be a pain in the ass, particularly, any reader who wants a tender take on the lethal combination of dementia and defiance.

As Long as I Know You narrates Anne-Marie Oomen’s journey to finally knowing her mother as well as the heartbreaking loss of her mother’s immense capacities. It explores how humor and compassion grow belatedly between a mother and daughter who don’t much like each other. It’s a personal map to find a mother who may have been there all along, then losing her again in the time of Covid. As the millions of women like Oomen’s mother reach their elder years and become the “oldest of the old,” their millions of daughters (and sometimes sons) must come on board, involved in care they may welcome the way they’d welcome hitting a pothole the size of a semi. How a family makes decisions about that pothole, how care continues or does not, how possessions are addressed—really, no one wants the crockpot—and how the relationship shifts and evolves (or not), that story is universal.

There is a brave intimacy in As Long as I Know You: The Mom Book. Such a thorough, deep remembrance casts its gaze not only on those who have passed but the devastation of loss itself. Laced into these exquisite sentences is a lesson for us all on how to honor a life.

—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders

In this courageous, poetic, grief-stricken book, Anne-Marie Oomen recounts the story of her mother’s final years and of how mother and daughter struggled through a difficult, life-long relationship. Oomen reminds us that dying is work, both physical and emotional, for both the patient and her loved ones. In the end, there isn’t reconciliation but something perhaps even more profound: understanding.

—Amy Hoffman, author of Lies about My Family

The immediacy of love, the urgency of forgiveness, the depths of grief are all here rendered in a prose as beautifully improvisational as the love of a grown child for a fractious, beloved, failing parent. Oomen's lyric recollections are a sacred harvest of what can be kept and an acknowledgment of what must be surrendered. Both wrenching and buoyant, particular and expansive, this is personal writing at its very best.

—Richard Hoffman, Half the House and Love & Fury

About the Author/Editor

ANNE-MARIE OOMEN is the author of The Lake Michigan Mermaid (coauthored with Linda Nemec Foster), Pulling Down the Barn, House of Fields, An American Map: Essays, Uncoded Woman, and Love, Sex, and 4-H. She has written seven plays, including the award-winning The Secrets of Luuce Talk Tavern. She is a poetry and nonfiction instructor at Solstice MFA at Lasell University and Interlochen College of Creative Arts. She and her husband, David Early, live in their handmade house near Traverse City, Michigan. Visit her at www.anne-marieoomen.com.