Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Report: The End of Your Life Book Club

Over the Labor Day weekend, I happened to catch a great public radio interview with author Will Schwable about the book inspired by his two-year conversation with his mother about books.  The End of Your Life Book Club describes how their mutual love of reading provided opportunities for the two to discuss life and death, both directly and indirectly.  Why was this important? The conversations took place while his mother was receiving chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.  He said they never had "the big talk" you might expect when confronted with mortality -- rather, they had dozens and dozens of small talks. 

It made me think about conversations with my own family members.  We live far apart and while I try to make it home frequently (at this point, I'm the only family member who flies), I know I don't make it home often enough.  But we talk a lot on the phone and I think we have also developed ways of speaking directly and indirectly about the present and the future.  Lately, with my parents that has often been through funny conversations about Dancing with the Stars.  (Thank goodness for on-demand television access, since I rarely catch the show on first airing.)  We talk about who is "doing well for their age" or who isn't. We suggest who we would like to see on the show (Julie Andrews?), and who makes us cringe (sorry, Cloris Leachman).  It has become shorthand for talking about memory, mobility, capacity, and our own aches and pains. 

What works for your family?  Or are you part of a (rare?) family who talks about such topics directly?  (Comments open below)

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Comments

In a coincidence of timing with my posting here, ABC has just announced the fall casting for “Dancing with the Stars,” including actress Valerie Harper of “Rhoda” and “Mary Tyler Moore Show” fame. Harper, age 74, was diagnosed earlier in the year with brain cancer, but said she couldn’t say “no” to an opportunity to dance. Good attitude! And of course, more opportunities for family conversations – and chuckles – about health and aging.

Posted by: Katherine Pearson | Sep 5, 2013 10:12:20 AM

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