Caring for Red

Caring for Red is Mindy Fried’s moving and colorful account of caring for her ninety-seven-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 blacklisted 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.

A deeply moving account of the rewards and challenges that emerge as an adult child becomes the caregiver for a beloved and formerly fiercely independent parent. The practical lessons Fried learned will be especially helpful to the millions of Americans facing this transformation in the future.

Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap

Raw and real. Anyone who has experienced caregiving can appreciate Mindy Fried’s story. I was reminded of Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? Both books help caregivers to feel less alone and to put the life course in perspective, and both Fried and Chast offer helpful advice along the way.

Meika Loe, author of Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond and The Rise of Viagra: How the Little Blue Pill Changed Sex in America

Mindy Fried has written a moving and insightful memoir about being a long-distance caregiver (with her sister) for her ninety-seven-year-old father in the last year of his life in an assisted living facility in Buffalo, New York. She has also captured the meaning of his life as a union activist, playwright, actor, late-life student, and teacher. Fried’s book offers compelling testimony on behalf of her adored but difficult father. As his caregiver she honored him as a father, and with her memoir, as a seeker for justice.

Carol Levine, Director, Families and Health Care Project, United Hospital Fund, and editor of Living in the Land of Limbo: Fiction and Poetry about Family Caregiving