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The Things Between Us

A Memoir

The Things Between Us
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The Montgomerys of Framingham, Massachusetts, are among the last of a dying breed -- New England WASPs who effortlessly combine repression, flamboyant eccentricity, and alcoholism. Fragmented by drink and dysfunction, the family had avoided assembling under one roof for more than a decade. But when Big Dad, the patriarch, was diagnosed with stomach cancer, the siblings all returned to their childhood home, Four Corner Farm, to help their parents navigate the specialists, treatment options, pain management, and, most difficult of all, their own anguish. The Things Between Us is Lee Montgomery's alternately wrenching and riotous story of her family reuniting as one of their own is dying.

Even in healthy times, Big Dad moved carefully through life, taking responsibility for the farm, the cars, the house, and his wife. Meanwhile the irrepressible Mumzy drank her first gin each day at 8:45 a.m. and spent her time singing jazz standards and reliving the glory days when she rescued horses from the now defunct hunt club. Prickly and proud, the two tried always to keep their chins up. But Big Dad's cancer rattled their formidable denial, and their habitual coping mechanisms took on heightened meaning when he became sick and the family reconvened. In Big Dad's last months, Montgomery accompanied him on his daily walks as he bade farewell to the places where their lives had unfolded; she and her mother sang old songs, and eventually composed their own jazzy musical called "If You're Dying of Cancer, Do You Want Us to Tell You?"

Montgomery's stunning memoir vividly evokes the often unspoken bonds between family members -- bonds made of memory, love, and disappointment. Heartbreaking, lyrical, and often hilarious, The Things Between Us hums with a sense of wonder as the author discovers anew the most familiar people in her life, herself among them.
Free Press; August 2006
240 pages; ISBN 9781416538127
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