Fanny Gideon is having a tree house built just like the one she remembered from her childhood. The best times of her life were spent in that tree house and she hopes to recapture the clarity, joy, and freedom of her youth. The problem is that Fanny Gideon is 78 years old and has Alzheimer's disease.

She struggles on a daily basis with trying to fit into a life that she does not like, and with constraints that diminish her sense of herself. Her daughter is thinking about placing her in a nursing home. Mrs. Gideon almost burns down the house on a daily basis. The cleaning lady follows her around when her daughter is out of the house.

This story is about how an elderly woman and her now elderly childhood sweetheart attempt to recapture both their youth and their current lives against all odds. It is about preservation of the self despite memory loss, renewal of love in old age, and about rebellion.


This readable and engaging story is effective in teaching because it allows the reader to enter the mind and life of a very real, passionate, human elderly woman and to see how her needs conflict with the very practical needs and fears of her family.

Primary Source

Water into Wine


Univ. of Illinois Press

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