From Frankie's point of view, her Mother had always had negative feelings about her Father's work. And this disdain became clear in the book as Sylvie related how she had always sacrificed what was important to her, always putting Alfie's ambitions first. Now that the girls are grown and they have retired to Pomeroy she is faced with being the caretaker for Alfie, who she says she no longer loves. Under those circumstances, I think it would be a struggle to face the future with the burdens that Alfie and his illness would bring. In Sylvie's defense, I felt she was facing his challenges in a caring and conscientious way.