“Not Really Gone” by Blaire Sharpe is about a woman growing up in a family with a lot of dysfunction and how the matriarch (Grandma) held her family together the best she could. It is the story of a girl growing up with absent and neglectful parents, but also a grandmother who stepped in and became a parent to the three children left behind by parents who couldn’t manage to take care of themselves. It is the story of how a young woman was shaped not so much by the events in her life but how the love she felt from her grandmother stayed with her through all of those events. It is the story of how a grown woman was able to become a caregiver to her elderly grandmother in her dying days and give back the love and affection she received throughout her life from her most influential role model.
I read a lot of memoirs and I can always find at least one part of a person’s story that I can relate to. I know what it’s like to have a person as a touchstone. It is how we measure ourselves. It’s the person you go to when you don’t know who you are yourself. Blaire’s person was her grandmother. “Not Really Gone” documents those important moments that Blaire shared with her grandmother that shaped her into the person she became. It is a recollection of times spent with her “person” and how that relationship formed her thoughts and feelings about the world. And it is the story of how the author measured herself using her grandmother as her barometer.
In the final chapters of the book, the author talks in great detail about her grandmother’s declining health and final days. She writes about how she was able to return the kind of love that her grandmother instilled in her. It was touching to read how the dynamic of their relationship changed and how Blaire was able to give back to her grandmother the same sense of security that she received from her as a child.
“Not Really Gone” is a wonderful tribute to a grandmother who gave everything she had to her family. It was well written and kept my attention from beginning to end. Definitely worth the read!