Farrago, from the Latin farragin, is a word that means a confused mixture. This memoir, sharing the story of the relationship between author Diana B. Roberts and her mother, Markie, is just that – a farrago containing neither positive nor negative judgment. Markie Byron Roberts was eighty-five years old when she passed away – a long life for anyone, but particularly for a woman who had been institutionalized for mental illness six times, beginning at age sixteen, and who had been unwillingly subjected to thirty-six shock therapy treatments. Through mental and physical illness, on her death bed and throughout her life, she maintained a personal sense of style reminiscent of her long bygone life. In the end, she went quietly, politely, and silently to the other side, leaving her children to wonder what her life, and their lives, might have been like if she had been with them all along. A victim of mental illness and the wounding loss of her family’s place in society, Markie became incapable of raising her three children. For many years the lingering effects of the brief years she spent with Markie created a shadow over Diana’s life, a kind of aura of both the presence and absence of her mother. Finally healed after a lifetime of uncertainty and ready to help shed light on the needs of survivors of parental mental illness, The author Diana B. Roberts details life with and without – her mother. This is her story.
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