I consider myself a fairly patient person. Usually I take the requirement of waiting for something - a vacation, an event, a baby, really any activity - in stride. This past month was a particular difficult one as my family and I were waiting for my mother to die.
That sounds terrible, doesn't it? Mom had stage 4 liver cancer and after her last hospital stay she declined rapidly. Within 4 days of her hospital release she was on in-home hospice and had very limited consciousness. But she wasn't quite ready to give up yet and her body functioned without food and minimal water for what seemed to us like forever. It was in fact, only a few weeks. So while our experience was terrible, it was also honoring, and loving, and bonding. My sister, Connie, my husband, Dave and I all took turns to make sure mom was never by herself.
When the going gets tough, the tough hunker down and, between providing care, the tough get reading. Sometimes reading is the only thing that can stop all the worries and sadness - at least temporarily.
Here are some of the books that got me through this super tough time.
I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel - I mentioned this a few weeks ago but this little gem is the book I took to the hospital with me while Mom was still there. The essays were perfect for my frame of mind and brought back warm feelings of book experiences I've loved. It was definitely like a warm afghan on a cold day for me.
The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine - Daphne Parrish has the perfect life and Amber Patterson wants it. Amber does her best to insinuate herself into the wealthy lifestyle of the Parrishes with the plan to take over Daphne's life and husband. This was a good suspense book with a big twist at the end.
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott - A book set in Brooklyn in the early 20th century, a young Irish immigrant commits suicide and sets in motion relationships between his wife and the local Catholic sisters that last. The Ninth Hour is a good story of human failures and redemption.
The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan - When my own troubles seem insurmountable sometimes I look for books about people or times worse than what I am going through. The Baker's Secret would be one of these. Emmanuelle is a baker in the small town of Vergers which is occupied by the Germans. Her townspeople are starving, her house is quartering a vicious German captain, and she is required to bake loaves of bread for the German commandant everyday. How Emma works behind the scenes to resist the Germans and help her friends and neighbors is a wonderful story.
The Address by Fiona Davis - Sara Smythe, head of housekeeping for a posh London hotel, is brought to America to manage the Dakota, a new apartment building on the West Side in New York City. The year is 1884 and the building is the first of the concierge complexes built to house the New York City elite. Sara's fate is complicated by falling in love with an architect of the building, a married man. This is a good story of the Guilded Age in American history.
Scone by Scone: Tales From An Innkeeper's Life by Deedie Runkel - I was sent this book by Ms Runkel who is currently on a cross country book tour. I can be somewhat skeptical about self-published books and the cover of this one didn't really catch me. The story inside was great, however. Deedie and her husband, David, left the DC area and became owners of Anne Hathaway's Bed & Breakfast in Ashland, Oregon. The book tells of their adventures in finding, buying, and maintaining a bed and breakfast in Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Deedie's tales range from enlightening to funny to quirky as she recounts the inn's various guest and their stories. Deedie writes well and includes many recipes in her book. So, if you have any thought of owning a bed and breakfast, or even just want to know about the daily life of a B&B, check this book out. It was engaging and had you wishing you were there!
Our own waiting was not part of a happy story except that my mom was surrounded by people who loved her as she passed. At the end I guess that is the best story we can have.