The Academy Award-winning actress reflects on the journey through her mother's life and the Alzheimer’s diagnosis that changed her family.
Marcia Gay Harden takes readers through The Seasons of My Mother in a moving new memoir sharing some of the many lessons that she learned from her beloved mother, Beverly Harden.
The Fifty Shades of Grey actress is the middle child of five children, and was born in La Jolla, California, to two Texas natives. Beverly was a homemaker, while Harden's father, Thaddeus, who died in 2002, was a naval officer.
Harden was pretty much destined to become an actress, showing an early passion for performing and storytelling, due in part from the encouraging experiences of her childhood. The Academy Award winner boasts a strong appreciation for her mother, whose battle with Alzheimer’s disease has been a lesson in resilience and grace.
The Seasons of My Mother, which was released on May 1 via hard copy and audiobook, is a reminder that the degenerative brain disease hasn’t dimmed the light of her mother’s dazzling spirit, while unearthing some of the stories that shaped her identity.
Check out seven heartwarming revelations from Harden’s book below.
1. The Seasons of My Mother wasn't always a memoir.
The project was originally supposed to be a calendar book of flower arrangements that morphed into a memoir after a “series of events” (including her mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis) changed Harden’s plans.
2. Harden learned a lot from her family's world travels.
As a military family, the Hardens moved frequently and eventually landed in Yokohama, Japan, where Harden's father was stationed. Located south of Tokyo, Yokohama is the second-largest city in Japan and is known for its historical architecture and breathtaking botanical gardens.
3. It takes "courage" to become an actress.
Harden’s mother taught her daughter how to submerge herself in diverse environments, which ultimately helped her muster the "courage" to audition for various roles and taught her how to sink into the world of different characters.
4. Harden's mother was skilled in the ancient art of Japanese flower arrangements.
While living overseas, Harden’s mother learned the art of Japanese flower arrangements, known as Ikebana. She even picked up an interesting hack of using vodka to help Wisteria flowers stay fresh longer. Years later, as Alzheimer’s began to set in, Harden asked her mother how she learned the vodka trick, to which she replied: “I know Wisteria love vodka because I have shared some with it.”
5. Cherished memories can be created anywhere.
During one particularly sweet passage in the book, Harden reflects on the “joyful chaos” of a happy memory of her mother teaching an Ikebana class to Harden's friends and neighbors in Venice Beach, California, in 1998. At the time, the actress was preparing to give birth to her first daughter, Eulala.
6. It's important to live in the moment.
One of the biggest lessons that Harden learned from her mother’s diagnosis is to “live in the moment.” Alzheimer’s often strips patients of their past, and living in the moment becomes their only option.
7. Alzheimer's disease won't be her mother's legacy.
Harden doesn’t want her mother to be defined by Alzheimer's disease. With The Seasons of My Mother, Harden hopes to show that her mother’s legacy is in the totality of a beautiful life, not in the diagnosis that has replaced pieces of her witty but soft-spoken disposition with the fragility of not being able to recall sometimes the smallest of memories.
Listen to an excerpt from The Seasons of My Mother in the video above. Click here for more on Harden’s new book.
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