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For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he's sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him -- most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear. What were they afraid of?
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When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz practiced denial, avoidance, and distraction. But after her elderly mother's encounter with a ladder, the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed. The themes here are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.