Losing Mum and Pup
After reading several reviews praising Christopher Buckley's book, Losing Mum and Pup I picked it up from the library. It was a short and savory book - a nice account of the year in which he lost both of his parents. Along the way Buckley penned a few anecdotes about each, and the stories he wrote were not sensational, but offered a glimpse of what it was like to be the son of two very strong and famous personalities.
In the first few pages he wrote:
"To the extent this story has a larger-than-personal dimension, it is an account of becoming an orphan. I realize that "orphan" sounds like an overdramatic term for becoming parentless at age fifty-five; but I was struck by the number of times the word occurred in the eight hundred condolence letters I received after my father died."
I think that struck a nerve with me, because when my grandmother died a few years ago (at the age of 97) I thought. "Now my mother, aunt, and uncle are orphans." Mother was 67 at the time. But to be bereft of one's parents at any age has to hurt, and Buckley captures his own experience well.
This had to be my favorite part of the book, however. Buckley relates how, after he received the news that his mother was fading fast and didn't have much time left, he raced over to the hospital to see her and what he did:
"I'd brought with me a pocket copy of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The line in Moby-Dick had lodged long ago in my mind: 'The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe.' I'd grabbed it off my bookshelf on the way to Virginia, figuring that a little fine-hammered steel would probably be a good thing to have on this trip. I'm agnostic now, but I haven't quite reached the point of reading aloud from Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion at the deathbed of a loved one."
That made me laugh!