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You Can Go Home Again: George Hodgman's 'Bettyville'

Cover of George Hodgman's New York Times best seller.

Middle aged people often find themselves asked to provide care and support to aging and increasingly infirm parents – many of whom do not want to leave their homes to enter full time nursing home care. The stress many of those children feel is usually compounded by also needing to hold down a full time job at the same time.

Hodgman's mother, born Betty Baker, sometime during her college years.

It’s a situation George Hodgman knows well. Hodgman fled his small Missouri hometown to the bright lights of New York City as soon as he graduated from high school. But 25 years later, his mother Betty needed him. It was only supposed to be for a few weeks. But life had other plans, including an unexpectedly bestselling memoir about their time together called Bettyville.

Bettyville explores love, loyalty and the laughter shared between mother and son.

Hodgman says the book was supposed to be about his specific experience with his mother, but it turned out to encompass something much bigger.

"It's not just a story of my mother or losing my mother or leaning to take care of my mother, but there are other nuggets and alleys and doors that lead to other places," he says.

Hodgman is referring to his side of the story told in Bettyville. As a gay man, Hodgman says humor was used a smoke screen growing up. Having to take care of his mother opened his eyes to how much they never knew about each other.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.