Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What they Tells Us about Ourselves by Frans de Waal

Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about OurselvesMama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves by Frans de Waal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mama’a Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves by Frans de Waal

is a beautiful breath of fresh air for those of us who live with animals and often find ourselves explaining to non-animal people the behaviors of our beloved pets. These behaviors to us are easy to interpret, most of the time. As pet owners, we often say our pets have emotions and can even sense our own moods. We might get an eye-roll or a sideways glance from our non-pet owning friends or family members because they just don’t understand. Frans de Waal is trying to understand but with science.

Frans de Waal isn’t interested so much in the everyday house cat or dog. His focus is more on the behaviors of Primates and no, I am not talking about humans. Although, we do fit into this research. He writes about recognizing ourselves in them. He writes about the relationship between the Chimpanzee Mama with not only her family group but her handlers as well. The relationship between chimpanzees was not just about eating and mating. It was a whole hierarchy of social structure similar to groups of humans, in some ways. Not all of the behavior was mimicked behavior, either. There were form, rules, and status within the groups that to the average viewer would look like chaos. The more he and others watched them, the more they learned there was a reason for what appeared to be chaos was in fact, a social order being run by Mama. The Alpha Female.

He writes about how chimpanzees handle death. How they comfort each other and how they mourn the loss. This, to me, was one of the most interesting parts of the book. We all have heard the stories of dogs, cats and even wild animals standing guard over the body of a deceased group/pack member. Frans De Waal brings some interesting points as to why this takes place.

This is a well-written book, easy to follow, and interesting. It is packed full of great stories and personal accounts. I recommend this to anyone who is fascinated with animal sciences or loves animals in general.

Thank you to W.W. Norton & Company, and Frans de Waal for sending me this great book to review. I am looking forward to the next one. Thank you for the ARC won on Goodreads.

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A raw read. In Pieces by Sally Field


“I wait for my mother to haunt me as she promised she would”

I picked up a hardback copy of In Pieces by Sally Field, published by Grand Central Publishing, not knowing what to expect. A lover of memoirs, but not a complete fan of Star memoirs, I was hesitant to give it a go. I am glad I did.

In Pieces is raw, emotional and not your run-of-the-mill Star memoir. Field who took 7 years to write In Pieces, reflects on her childhood trauma with the eyes of a confused shy little girl and those of a strong woman who has found her voice. -even if that voice wavers, at times, due to its vulnerability. To have the strength to tell others in your circle about childhood abuse is a mountain to climb. To write about it for the world to see, to process it and to let the public in, even if we only see ‘pieces’ of it, takes courage.

This is not a fluff memoir. This is a kick in the gut read. This could be anyone’s story. This could be your story, your mother’s story, your sister’s, your daughter’s, grandmothers, etc… Women make up the major theme. The roles they play in Field’s early life start out the book. Center to her story is the strained relationship with her mother. As well as, her close relationship with her unique sister. This struggle continues throughout most of her life.

She touches on her marriage, parenting, failed relationships, and yes, Burt is in there too. All of this is done with a little laughter, some sorrow, questions, and even pain. It is as if she is sorting through a memory bank and taking the reader with her. In a way, she is. Photos, journal entries, magazine clippings, and other items are included as she walks her way through her past.

Most of all, this story is about mothers and daughters. The relationship between a child and mother is important. What happens when the two have a huge unspoken not so secret story? How does one forgive while the other is trying to forget or make up for their failings? This is the ultimate story.

Sure, some might roll their eyes at the thought of another Star memoir but they will be the ones missing out. Field shows us not to take everything at face value.


Until next time,


Oh Crap! I Look like my father….Did I just sound like my mother?……

daughter “Mom! Can I go to the game?”
Me “No you are grounded”
Daughter “Why?”
me “because I said so!”
Daughter “But Mommmm!”
me “No!now don’t ask again!”
Daughter rolls eyes
Me”Don’t you roll your eyes at me young lady!”

That’s when I realized I have become mother! Holy Crap! I stopped arguing with her because I was in shock! I just sounded just like my mother!! She just stood there in the kitchen looking at me as I tried not to cry! I gave in and let her have her way. I really did not want to sound like my mother!

The image that flashed before my eyes, was of a curly-headed girl about her age standing in a kitchen similar to the one I was in, having the same conversation with another mother. Mine. I remember making a silent vow to myself that I would never, ever, never, ever tell my kids “don’t you roll your eyes at me!”, when I was a child. I remember thinking I was going to be different. I was going to raise them with a soft, but firm hand. I was going to explain things to her, not yell “because I said so!”, just because I did not have an answer! I was gonna be super mom, soccer mom, PTA mom, the coolest mom on the block! There was no way I was going to try to bribe my little girl with things to get her to do what I wanted her to do. I was not going to be the yeller! I was going to handle all situations with wisdom, grace and intelligence. Above all else I WAS NOT GOING TO BE MY MOTHER! I have FAILED miserably!

I walked into the bathroom after this little incident in the kitchen. I washed my face. I did not warsh my face, as my mother would say! I felt a little better. That is until I looked in the mirror! I glanced up at the image in the mirror! I jumped back a few inches. The face I saw looking back at me, looked a heck of a lot like my father! Holy shit! When did this happen!? My eyes followed my hair-line, where the once golden blond hair has traces of gray in it. I touched my eyebrows, unruly as they have always been. My gaze followed to the color of my eyes. Eyes that change color depending on the mood I am in-just like someone else I know! My gaze then drifted to the corners-the crows feet. Just little creases at the corner, but very similar to my father. I put my hands to my face and felt the lines around my nose and mouth. When did they become this deep? I rested my gaze on my nose. Which by the way is the feature that I hate the most. I have never had a beautiful profile. My nose being slightly larger than necessary. This was alway the defining landmark that connected me with my father. OMG! Is it bigger? I finally let my gaze shift to my mouth, always slightly crooked, not crookered as my mother would say! Ok I am good, it has not changed that much. Then I saw it! The landmark, unlike my nose. It has always been subtle. Just beneath the surface. No one sees it very often. In fact, I used to be terrified that someone would point it out to me as a teenager! I lean closer to the mirror. Searching. There it is! That horrible little indention! I pulled my lip up, much like a man does when he is shaving around his lower lip. I could see it winking at me. As if to say, here I am, here to stay! The cleft chin. A Y-shaped indention in the chin that is inherited by a dominate gene. A dominate mutated gene, mind you! I think I blacked out for a momment. I walked out of the bathroom into the bedroom to sulk, cry and feel sorry for myself.

Now, I am not knocking my parents. This is not about how bad my parents are or if they are unattactive. It’s about me, being me. I think what bothers me most about all of this is always thought I was an individual. My own person. I remember saying as a child. “I will never became like them!” I know that this thought process is the same for most people. I mean, we all have parents. We all want to be our “own person”, right? Heck just the other day, my mother made the comment to me that she realized she was becoming her mother. I laughed it off. “What Mom? Nah, you are you mom!” giggle giggle. The older she gets the more she takes on her mothers ways, face and sayings. I was determined that I would NOT follow down the same path! Yeah right!

I noticed since the incident (horrible as it was) with the mirror, that I sound more and more like my mother every day! The way I say things to my daughter, my husband. The tone of my voice. The problem is that once I realize what I said, I will stop in mid sentence. Shocked! My family usually,looks at me strangely as I try to continue what I was saying without sounding like my mother. My husband pointed something out to me yesterday after a little argument with my 13-year-old had me curled up in my bed wanting to pull the covers over my head and never come out. He pointed out that my little girl was a mini me! I was horrified at the thought! Not my daughter. She is her own person! She voices her thoughts out loud! She always has to have the last word. The moon is blue! She always has to be right! Her way is the best! She often takes control of the group. Shes the director, the leader, the mouth of it! She is funny, she has a wonderful sense of humor! Oh, holy balls. It dawned on me! I was looking at my reflection! The tilt of her head, the set of her jaw, the way she talks with her hands, the kindness in her heart for animals. What have I done!? I don’t want her to be me! I want her to be her! I don’t want to be my mother! I want to be me!

I sat there thinking, worried that my little girl is going to be in counseling for years! That somehow I ruined her! I realized that she is trying hard to pull away from the image she has about me. She is trying to become her own person. She is rebelling from me to become herself. She is not doing this because she hates me, or because I am a crappy mother. She is doing this, this arguing, eye rolling and sass, to not become me! I never understood it before. She is everything I am not too. She is a class clown, a practical joker, a funny face maker. She is girly, bows, make-up, a fashionista! She is petite were I am not. She has piano hands, not the cubby, stubby little hands that I have. She is thin, wiry! Never will she have to worry about her weight. Goofy! She hates anything scary, sad or unkind. Her hair is straight, cannot hold a curl.The color of honey in the summer and almost mahogany in the winter. In fact she told me one time, that she loves her hair. She never wants to have hair like mine. Mine is curly, unruly, crazy, wild, untamable just like me. She is good in math and she likes it!(well everything except long division, we share that!)
As I thought about my little mini me that I created. I began to see that it is all a circle. She is the image of her father, the voice of her mother and I am the image of my father, the voice of my mother. My mother is the image of her mother with the thoughts of her father. I will take care of my mother, just as my mother will take care of her mother. I will continue to rebel against the thought of becoming her. Just as my mother will with her mother. My daughter will continue to struggle to be her own person too! But as much as we pull away, trying to be individuals, it will catch up with us. It will catch us unaware one day. My daughter will look in the mirror one day and say the same thing. She will be shocked and may be a little scared! And I dear readers, I will sit back and giggle, giggle until tears roll down my face!!!