The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, just out, is about the last months the author spent with his mother as she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Mary Anne, the mother, had compiled a list of books she wanted to read before she died, and the pair spent their precious time together, reading aloud to one another through her chemotherapy treatments and the debilitating days that followed.
Much of what they read led to spirited debates about life, death and values. What emerged from that collaboration is the profile of a woman of courage and character: a college administrator who was an advocate for refugee women and who helped establish a national library in Kabul. ((The Week, 12/21/12 pg. 18) What also becomes clear is the tender relationship between mother and son as they quarreled over the merits of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or laughed over plots that struck them both as funny. Some of Mary’s book choices were long, which was a tribute to her spirited optimism. But always the literature kept them living in the present. As her son writes in his memoir, “Reading isn’t the opposite of doing. It’s the opposite of dying.” (Ibid, pg. 18.)
As I thought about Schwalbe’s memoir, I paused to consider what books I’d enjoy before the closing of my life. I’m pretty sure I’d reach for works of humor, compassion and love. So many books exist that I long to read and the list keeps growing. I think it would be easier to say what wouldn’t be on my nightstand as I waited for death: anything by Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Wolfe, Philip Roth or Bernard Malamud. As to the rest, I hope I would be open to experiment, even at the last.
(Courtesy of beforeitnews.com)