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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Winter Stars

ISBN: 9781611534498

Publisher: Lighthouse Messages

Publication Date: 03/22/2022

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)


Winter Stars is a gift - a modern classic of frontier literature documenting the uncertain journey into the country of caregiving."

Michael J. Fox

Dave Iverson was a busy broadcast journalist recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when he decided to do something he'd never quite imagined: He moved in to take care of his 95-year-old mom. Winter Stars is the moving story of their ten-year caregiving journey.

"The resulting memoir is a love story you won't soon forget," writes Elizabeth Farnsworth, former chief correspondent for The PBS NewsHour and author of A Train Through Time.

By the end of this decade, 74 million Americans will be over the age of 65, including every member of the Baby Boom generation. The pandemic prompted more Americans to consider caring for their parents at home, but as Iverson learned, the gritty, life-changing reality caregiving delivers requires more than good intentions. He didn't know that his mom's dementia would pose more challenges than his Parkinson's. He didn't know he'd be capable of getting so angry. He didn't know that becoming a caregiver means experiencing love and loss, anger and insight - usually when exhausted and often on the same day. And he didn't know that moving in with his mom would challenge and change him more than any other life experience.

"A deeply moving memoir, Winter Stars is still more than that - it is a guide to finding the help we all need, in one way or another, as life poses new and different challenges," praises Ron Elving, Senior Editor and Correspondent, NPR

For the vast number of families who are confronting--or will soon confront - the journey of eldercare, Winter Stars offers an intimate, unvarnished portrait of the challenges, choices, and life lessons that lie ahead.

"Honest, comforting, and true, Winter Stars is a testament to the power of family love," says Ann Packer, best-selling author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Songs Without Words.

All royalties from the sale of Winter Stars go to support:

  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

  • Dance for PD; and

  • Avenidas, a San Francisco Bay Area organization providing caregiver support.


"A deeply moving account of a 10 year caregiving odyssey ... As Iverson depicts in heartrending scenes, those years were never without their difficulties ... but there are also glimmers of joy ... This cannily conveys the nuances of living with and loving someone at the end of their life." Publisher's Weekly

"Winter Stars is a gift — a modern classic of frontier literature documenting the uncertain journey into the country of caregiving. That Dave walked this path while himself living with neurological illness is remarkable, but his story will resonate with everyone who has grappled up close with a parent or loved one’s end of life. Adelaide Iverson comes through on the page as vividly as she must have in life — this is a portrait that would do any mother proud. I’m grateful to Dave for sharing his fresh and honest take on sickness and health, mothers and sons, and the deeply sustaining bonds of familial love."

—Michael J. Fox

This account of a loving son taking care of his mother in her final years is beautiful, moving, and so full of the spirit of the woman at its center that readers will feel they knew her. Dave Iverson has written the kind of memoir people will buy in quantity, to have on hand to give friends when they—and their parents—arrive at life’s most difficult juncture. Honest, comforting, and true, Winter Stars is a testament to the power of family love.

— Ann Packer, best-selling author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier and Songs Without Words

My former PBS colleague Dave Iverson, whom I have known as a gifted broadcaster and filmmaker, decided at age 59 to move in with and care for his equally determined 95-year-old mother, whose dementia was eroding her quick wit and intelligence. Winter Stars recounts Dave’s caregiving odyssey, which, over ten years, broke open his heart. The resulting memoir is a love story you won't soon forget.

— Elizabeth Farnsworth, former chief correspondent for The PBS NewsHour and author of “A Train Through Time.”

Winter Stars is the story of the indomitable Adelaide, a woman of the American century who is nearing her own century mark, and her son Dave, who puts his own busy life on pause to become her full-time caregiver. In so doing, Dave enters a world where he learns that loyalty and love are not always enough. A deeply moving memoir, Winter Stars is still more than that — it is a guide to finding the help we all need, in one way or another, as life poses new and different challenges.

— Ron Elving, Senior Editor and Correspondent, NPR

"Dave Iverson is like a friend who's been to a place you'd rather not go, but likely will: caring for an elderly parent. His caregiving memoir Winter Stars shows you around with honesty and humor. At age 59 he moved into his childhood home and took care of his mother for ten years, plenty of time for fearsome decision-making, happy and sad surprises and new depths of love. Your own caregiving experience will vary, and Iverson's gentle guidance is invaluable."

—Sheila Himmel, author of Changing the Way We Die and Hunger: A Mother and Daughter fight Anorexia

"Dave Iverson has written a wise and wonderful ode to one of the most memorable women ever to grace the pages of a memoir—his indomitable mother. Winter Stars is the heartfelt and, at times, heart-wrenching, story of a grown man who moves back home to take care of his 95-year-old mom. It is a beautifully written, utterly unconventional love story that ultimately confirms the notion that a life worth living will eventually break your heart, but it will fill your heart before it breaks it. Anyone who has ever been a son or daughter—which, I believe, includes most of us—will love riding along with Dave and Adelaide. It's the trip of a lifetime."

—Steve Hannah, former CEO of The Onion and award-winning author of Dairylandia

"Winter Stars provides an intimate firsthand account of living with someone with dementia, a condition the WHO forecasts will substantially increase in the years ahead. This is a global emergency, and author Dave Iverson has written a keenly observed and nuanced account of that experience. There is so much warmth and humility in this story about a mother and son treading a changing path, one that will be a tremendous source of support for those of us touched by loved ones who are themselves aging."

—Dr. Claire Henchcliffe, Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology, University of California Irvine --This text refers to the paperback edition.

"Compelling in sharing admiration for the women in his life, Iverson’s monumental memoir about assuming a caregiver’s role is marked by complexity, love, and humor... Winter Stars is the elegant memoir of a relatable caregiver who spent a decade caring for his ailing mother."

—Melissa Wuske, Foreword Reviews

My Review

WINTER STARS is an eloquently written and profoundly moving intimate memoir of the caregiving from an aging son and an elderly mother's final life journey. I enjoyed it immensely.

A busy, successful broadcast journalist recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Dave Iverson decided to do something he'd never quite imagined. Within the pages of this stunning debut memoir, the author shines!

WINTER STARS is a moving story of his ten-year caregiving journey. At the age of 59, he moved in to take care of his 95-year-old mom. She ultimately lived to be 105 years old.

Dave's father had passed away with Parkinson's, and his brother was diagnosed and himself. As a baby boomer, he knew he could not put his mother in a home. Until age 96, Adelaide lived in her house independently since the 1950s and after her husband passed. She was very active and lived life to the fullest.

However, at age 96, when she came down with pneumonia, she decided to cut up her driver's license. She thought it was time, which gave her control of the situation. Adelaide did not want to die.

Adelaide thought there were two of herself.

The pretty and smart one who knows how to do things.

Then there's the bad side—the one who's ugly and stupid and can't do anything.

At times she does not know which one is present.

At age 101, she began the early stages of dementia. She had been a force, a former teacher, devoted spouse, mother of three, an avid reader, a sports fan, a loyal friend, and a powerhouse volunteer. When he decided to move in, he did not know many things about being a caregiver. He never expected to be for an entire decade before her passing at age 105.

TRIBUTE: As the author describes in this beautiful memoir, this journey affected him, humbled him, and reoriented him more than any other experience in his life. He also gives tribute to the remarkable women who accompanied him on this journey and those who changed his life and his mom's. I really enjoyed the

Like many of us who have been down this road with our aging parents and as baby boomers (myself),—we are thinking of our end of life as well. How do we want to be cared for when we no longer can on our own? Especially for those of us who are single and live alone and grown children are many states away with lives of their own.

CAREGIVING: Caregiving involves doing things you never imagined. There are decisions to make about home health care, insurance, cost, Medicare, skilled nursing, hospice, nursing assistants, plus the daily challenges of caring for an elder similar to a young child. But changing diapers for an adult mom, with trips to the bathroom, dressing, doctor visits, medications, feeding are all part of the daily tasks and cooking and cleaning. There is so much to learn and it often feels like a crash course.

At the same time, try your best to be patient with lack of sleep while up multiple times during the night while still working with a full-time career, a life, and a disease of your own. With ten years of this, there are financial burdens, loans, and other considerations.

Adelaide had "staying" power. Each time she got an infection, she seemed to bounce back. But felt trapped and hated who she was becoming. No longer the person she was before. With letters from her husband and other treasure and memories of the past, and outings, Iverson knew he had to have more help. He needed balance to be his best when he was there.

SPECIALIZED ASSISTANCE:I loved the two generous women who helped care for his mom, Eileen and Sinai. If we all had two remarkable women like this at the end of our lives. Even one undergoing cancer treatments of her own was always there. And the help of hospice nurse Chris and others. These two women turned the old house into a home once more.

LIFE SUPPORT: As time goes on, there are also considerations about when to stop care. She did not want life support, but they still provided medications to help extend her life and quality of life. There always seemed to be more chapters.

With raw emotions, Iverson talks honestly of the struggles and decisions. His outlet was his work and his running.

"Running gives you the illusion that you're in charge of your body until your body lets you know otherwise. Caregiving, on the other hand, never offers that fantasy. Instead, it made me feel like I was driving a car that was careening down the highway with my seatbelt unbuckled and someone next to me grabbing at the steering wheel. Sometimes I wasn't even sure I was in the front seat."

You choose how to respond to certain challenges. The two women, Eileen and Sinai showed him caregiving was an exercise in acceptance. These two women who were immigrants taught Iverson that sometimes it's America's newest arrivals who offer the comforting embrace. At his lowest, the two provided him with a safe harbor.

A beautiful memoir told with compassion and love. I especially love the quotes at different ages and stages from Adelaide and the honest words of the son. I adored the ending with both women there to the end and even the special outfit tunic and pants that the women had specially made for her and the way they cleaned and dressed her with special care before the hearse arrived, allowing the family time with her. Who could ask for anything more?

Admirable, Dave Iverson's unselfish care for his mom. I cannot see either of my grown sons spending a weekend taking care of me, much less putting their life on hold and doing this for 10 years. A fortunate mom to have a son so caring. For this reason, I hope I can afford an end-of-life Doula!

I highly recommend this book! A fitting title and eloquently written. We all want to die with dignity and hopefully pain-free in an environment with people who genuinely care for you and give you the personalized attention that you can be honest with until the end. Our healthcare is not cut out to give this specialized care as to why so many have changed the plans for their loved ones.

NOTE: All royalties from the sale of Winter Stars go to support: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Dance for PD, and Avenidas, a San Francisco Bay Area Organization providing caregiver support.

DEDICATION: The book is dedicated to his mother, Adelaide, caregivers, Eileen and Sinai; and his wife, Lynn.

For the vast number of families confronting —or will soon face—a caregiving journey, Winter Stars offers an intimate, unvarnished portrait of the challenges, choices, and life lessons.

Also prior to reading WINTER STARS, I read an arc of the beautifully moving novel by Jessica Strawser also out today, March 22nd, THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW.

THE CAREGIVERS in Winter Stars reminded me so much of the End-of-Life Doula, Nova in Jessica's book. I definitely want a Doula. I think they are so special and if you cannot find an Eileen and Sinai, or a caring son, you will most definitely want a Doulas like Nova. I highly recommend both these books. One non-fiction and one fictional; however, they both highlight end-of-life journeys with one older and one younger.

A special thank you to Light Messages Publishing and NetGalley for a digital ARC. Thank you for the opportunity. I also purchased the hardcover copy for my home library.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5 Stars

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

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About the Author

David Iverson is a writer, documentary film producer/director, and retired broadcast journalist. During his career, he produced and reported more than 20 documentary specials for PBS, including the Frontline film, My Father, My Brother and Me, which explored his family’s battle with Parkinson’s disease, and the national Emmy award-winning The Thirty Second Candidate. Iverson was a radio and television host for 35 years, first at Wisconsin Public Broadcasting and then at San Francisco’s NPR affiliate KQED. He’s also served as a special correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. He’s currently a contributing editor at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, where he was a founding member of the foundation’s Patient Council. Winter Stars is Iverson’s first book. WEBSITE



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