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Weekly Wisdom 5-11-2016

Post Date: 
Wednesday, May 11, 2016


One of my favorite things on the weekend it to watch Sunday Morning (7-8:30am on CBS). I always learn something; the stories are off-beat and interesting. This past Sunday, I assume in honor of Mother’s Day, there was a story called, “A Trip Back Home to Bettyville.” You can find the entire video and transcript (an interview by Mo Rocca) at  But here’s a part of the story:

For twenty-five years, George Hodgman was one of the publishing industry's top book and magazine editors.

Rocca asked him, "If ten years ago someone had said to you, 'You're gonna go back to Paris, Missouri, to take care of your mother,' what would you have said?"

"Oh, I would have said, 'What other tragic thing can happen to me on this planet?'" 

But five years ago, he found himself far away from New York -- back in his hometown of Paris, Mo., taking care of his widowed mother, Betty.

"I've had this terrible fear all my life that I couldn't do this," Hodgman said. "I was an only child. I was gonna be alone with this. And it involved all kinds of things that made me terribly uncomfortable -- taking over my mother's taxes. I can barely do my own taxes! I thought the 'Medicare donut hole' was a breakfast special for seniors.”

He began to write, for therapy. "It was a way to not feel sad, and kind of get it out of my head."  The writing became a book, "Bettyville," a best-selling memoir.

"When dealing with older women, a trip to the hairdresser and two Bloody Marys goes further than any prescription drug. I was able to write the book, because I didn't hear New York talking to me," Hodgman said. "If I'd gone to them and said, 'I want to write this book about a fat man and his 90-year-old mother,' I would have been laughed at."

The book is about Betty and George. But it's also about George coming to terms with the town where he was raised. "I thought of this place as kind of church territory, and as a gay person, I was not so comfortable," he said.


In the end, Betty dies and her son stays in Paris, Missouri…the place he calls home.

My own parents are 90 and 82, live by themselves in a little cabin in the woods. I call three mornings each week; my dad has become more silent, my mom more childlike. My dad had a 24-hour flu bug earlier this week and Mom found it easier for me to tell Dad to eat his chicken soup, than telling him herself.

I know it’s a cliché, but I have become the parent in our relationship.  To be continued…

Treasure every moment.


I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  

Staci Sleigh-Layman

Take the Next Step to Becoming a Wildcat.