“As a writer, Wearing is all luscious texture and running narrative. ” — The Globe and Mail
Moments of Glad Grace is a moving and witty memoir of aging, familial love, and the hunt for roots and belonging. The story begins as a trip from Canada to Ireland in search of genealogical data and documents. Being 80 and in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Joe invites his daughter Alison to come along as his research assistant, which might have worked very well had she any interest — any at all — in genealogy.
Very quickly, the father-daughter pilgrimage becomes more comical than fruitful, more of a bittersweet adventure than a studious mission. And rather than rigorous genealogy, their explorations move into the realm of family and forgiveness, the primal search for identity and belonging, and questions about responsibility to our ancestors and the extent to which we are shaped by the people who came before us.
Though continually bursting with humor, Moments of Glad Grace ultimately becomes a song of appreciation for the precious and limited time we have with our parents, the small moments we share, and the gifts of transcendence we might find there.
The customs officer has the face of a merry alcoholic who also enjoys his pie. His friendly eyes flutter when I tell him the purpose of my trip—to help my father with some gynaecological research—but he doesn’t ask any further questions. Just stamps my passport and says Welcome to Ireland, love, which feels like a moment of sanity in an otherwise crazed world.
I have come here to help my father with some genealogical research. He’s quite serious about it and has been at it for years, but a few months ago he mentioned a desire to revisit Dublin’s libraries and archives, adding that he would prefer to do it with the help of a research assistant. Count me in! I’d said immediately, though we both knew I fall asleep at the mere mention of genealogy, a word I am forever confusing with gynaecology, particularly when saying it aloud.
Still, we’re here. And a bit of boredom in the archives seems a small price to pay for the chance to spend ten days in Dublin with my dad. He’ll be eighty in a few months—he’d say he’s 79½—and is so fit and active I have wondered if I’ll be the one scrambling to keep up. But he also has incipient Parkinson’s, a disease that has begun to possess and hammer him, and I jumped at a chance for time together, now.
My father does not appear in the collage of tired faces watching a slow parade of suitcases file past. Having bought our tickets separately, we weren’t sitting together on the plane, and I didn’t see him in any of the lines at Customs. I park myself in a visible spot and pass the time by trying to conjure a border experience which includes the phrase Welcome to the United States of America, love, but no matter how many times I attempt to lift that small kite of words into being, I am unable to keep it aloft.
When most of the bags are claimed from the belt and there is still no sign of him, I notice that when a parent is about to turn eighty, a child’s reflex changes from where the hell’s he gone? to what if something’s happened? I walk and peer and swivel and conclude that he must have headed out of the arrivals area without me. And indeed, on the other side of the exit’s automatic doors, I spot him, looking bored. The moment I wave, however, he becomes animated, fluttering a hand to his chest and panting in theatrical, exaggerated relief while running through a breathless explanation: I didn’t see you in there so I came out here but then I realized you must have been back there but then I wasn’t allowed back in so I just had to stand here wondering how long you’d stay there waiting for me! He is giggling now, shedding so many layers of relief and excitement that I pause to wonder if the airport cleaning staff ever feel they are mopping up excess emotion in addition to casual grime. Relieved, my dad goes off to find the toilets while I stand guard over the suitcases. As I watch him disappear, I decide to begin our father-daughter escapade by creating a running list of qualities I adore about him, flipping to the back of my notebook and creating the heading Things About Dad, before printing How Often He Giggles.
“Moments of Glad Grace is an endearing delight. ” — Shelf Awareness
“This is a wise, funny, and tender book, beautifully written and perfectly executed from first to last sentence. It's about a daughter and her ageing father, it's about genealogy and identity, it's about Ireland, but actually it's about how we love the ones we love. Moments of Glad Grace is a travelogue of the heart. It's a road you'll want to travel. ” — Yann Martel, #1 bestselling author of Life of Pi
“This is a well written book that celebrates love and maturity, wisdom and forgiveness, and the hard earned peace that occurs when you have the courage to pass through heartfelt honesty to the other side of tragedy, loss and sorrow. Highly recommended. ” — Vancouver Sun
“A richly layered journey, charmingly told. ” — Plum Johnson, author of They Left Us Everything
“Dancing between hilarity and the poignancy of a last sojourn with her father, Alison Wearing once again reveals herself as a sharp and tender observer of this mortal coil we call life. Moments of Glad Grace is a journey you won't want to miss. ” – Merilyn Simonds, author of Refuge