Most of the response to a recently-published memoir of mine was enthusiastic.
People liked its message of hope, its humor, and its stories about my mother. Even at the end, she had a personality to savor and wisdom to emulate.
I did receive one review that was not uniformly positive, though.
The reviewer had several nice things to say. He liked my writing, and he found the story moving. Nevertheless, as far as he was concerned the bottom line was that, and I quote, “as the book moves to its conclusion, we know how it’s going to end.”
I wasn’t offended — but I had to laugh. The book wasn’t supposed to be suspenseful. Until a cure is found for Alzheimer’s, the story of a person who has it is bound to end in death.
In my book, I wasn’t interested in dwelling on the fact of my mother’s death. I was interested in describing, and learning from, the way in which she died — and more importantly, the way in which she lived.
As I thought about the review, I came upon a profound truth. In a sense, I realized, my mother’s story was everyone’s story in microcosm.
All of our stories end in death. What’s important is not that we die at their conclusion. What’s important is how we choose to live on our way to that conclusion.
When one is close to death, as my mother and I were in that final year of her life, the richness of the world makes itself felt more than ever. Every conversation, every visit with friends and family, every child’s smile, every sunny day, every hug, every note of music, every line of poetry, and every laugh bring special joy because they may be the last of their kind.
Today, as all of the globe feels a little closer to death, I’m trying to apply the lessons I learned then. I want to write words that will move people. I want to sing songs that will lift their spirits. And I want to express love whenever I get the chance.
Tinky Weisblat’s memoir is called “Pulling Taffy.” She lives and sings in Hawley, Massachusetts.