Caring for Red is Mindy Fried's moving and colorful account of caring for her 97-year-old father, Manny - an actor, writer, and labor organizer - in the final year of his life. This memoir chronicles the actions of two sisters as they discover concentric circles of support for their father and attempt to provide him with an experience of engaged aging in an assisted living facility. The story is also that of a daughter of a powerful and outspoken man who took risks throughout his life and whose political beliefs had an enduring impact on his family. (After Manny was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he was blackballed and his family was shunned.) As an actor, Manny was affiliated with Elia Kazan's Group Theatre and the Federal Theatre Project. He did Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Ibsen, and played everything from the tormented father in Arthur Miller's All My Sons to an infant in a baby carriage in Thornton Wilder's Infancy, from the Rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof to - poignantly for this book - the role of Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie. As she devotes herself to caring for her dying father, Mindy grapples anew with the complexity of their relationship. She questions whether she can be there for him and how to assert her own voice as her father's caregiver in his last days.
Mindy Fried, a sociologist, is Co-Principal of Arbor Consulting Partners. She is the author of Taking Time: Parental Leave Policy and Corporate Culture.