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Maxine "Mad Max" Davies is a wealthy widow living in New York City when she learns her only daughter Merry is badly injured in an automobile accident. She immediately returns to Richmond, Virginia, where she grew up, to take care of her daughter and two grandchildren.
On the surface she is sophisticated, polished and in control of all situations. Estranged years earlier from her daughter Merry, she wants to reach out and heal the rift. She doesn't know how.
At first, she doesn't realize how badly injured her daughter is. The healing process takes weeks and results in a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. Merry's personality changes. When it becomes clear Merry will never return to the way she was before the accident, Mad Max has few options.
For most of her adult life, Mad Max lives by a simple mantra: "I'm through raising children and I'm never living in the South again." Merry's long-term prognosis and the needs of her two grandchildren throw the mantra into the trash.
Mad Max alternates between anger at the situation in which she finds herself and acting silly to keep her grandchildren's spirits up.
Her best friend tells her she may not have gotten everything right when she raised Merry, but life gives her a "doo-wop" with her grandchildren. Mad Max chooses not to blow it this time.