A memoir, by definition, is composed of memories. It is almost unbearably poignant, then, that Song for Rosaleen is a memoir that exists only because of memory loss. Written by Wellington oral historian and editor Pip Desmond, it documents her mother’s slide into vascular dementia and the effects of this on the entire family.
Perhaps this sounds grim – and of course in many ways it is. But Song for Rosaleen is gripping. It is at one level a personal account, at another a meditation on memory itself, and at yet another an erudite critique of how our society treats the frail, dependent and voiceless. For this latter reason alone it should be essential reading for everyone who works in health: management, non-clinical and clinical staff alike.