Like all mothers, mine had a set of maxims that she thought were important to impart to me: if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all (unless it's irresistibly funny); it's as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is with a poor man (a nice idea in theory); if you want to commit suicide, wait until tomorrow (advice which has, it turns out, saved my life).Like many daughters of elderly parents, Pat MacEnulty finds herself in a maze of healthcare negotiations and discoveries when her mother can no longer care for herself. Pat's mother, who stood by her through her darkest years as a drug addict, was a small-town icon as a composer, pianist, organist, and musical director. She is suddenly unable to be the accomplished, independent person she once was. Now Pat has two goals: to help her daughter avoid the mistakes that derailed her own life, and to see her mother's masterpiece, "An American Requiem," find a new life and a new audience in her mother's lifetime. Along the way, Pat rediscovers her own strength, humor, and rebelliousness at the most unlikely moments.