Absolutely Delicious: a Chronicle of Extraordinary Dying by Alison Jean Lester
Valerie Lester perceived her move into a hospice some months after being diagnosed with terminal cancer as “a retirement from things as well as from activity”. In this memoir, peppered with poetry, and illustrations by Mary Ann Frye, Alison Jean Lester honours her mother’s decision to forego life-prolonging treatment in order to enjoy the life she had left.
It’s a story of love and acceptance and knowing oneself well enough to choose the manner of letting go. Her gradual detachment seems a reversal of the attachments we learn in infancy and the unsettled period, notable even in someone reconciled to death, parallels the awkward journey through the birth canal. Uncomfortable as that may be, there’s an uplifting message in the circularity: like plants and like other animals, we die so others can be born.
Not a fan of memoir, I wouldn’t have read this if I hadn’t enjoyed the author’s novels, the most recent being Yuki Means Happiness, but I’m glad I did.
Apprenticed to My Mother by Geoff Le Pard
With touching details, and his trademark self-deprecatory humour, this is a moving memoir of the power behind the throne. A tribute to a dying breed (no pun intended) of twentieth century women who, neither submitting to nor rebelling against their second-class status, subverted it in the service of the family they loved. And were loved in return.
I felt I knew Barbara a little already from Geoff’s blog, and especially from this thread about his parents’ war-time romance, but was charmed to meet her again. And her dismay at discovering her facial wrinkles after the removal of her cataracts really made me laugh. I think the narrative could have been made a little tighter – although it’s not overly long – but overall it’s an entertaining and uplifting read.
I received a copy of this book from the author for my entry in the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo.