The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe

ImagesThis End of Your Life Book Club is a memoir by a son, Will Schwalbe, writing about the last two years of his mothers life as she was dying from pancreatic cancer.  The book is captivating on so many levels. 

His mother, Mary Ann, was an extraordinary person.  She was a humanitarian with a huge heart.  She was also a really good Mom.  She loved to read and in turn her children did too.  Together WIll and her read a host of books that they discussed over the course of her treatment.  Treatments which just kept her alive.  She knew she would never survive this cancer but she could hopefully stick around for awhile longer. 

I had read so many of the books that they read together so I really enjoyed the conversations and insight into each of these books.  Certainly you look at stories differently based on where you are in your life which made their conversations even more interesting.

What I really loved about the book is how the entire family continued to live knowing that their mother would not be there much longer.  She knew it and embraced it and believed life is for the living.  They were able to have closure and conversations.  Nobody writes about this or rarely talks about what is like to live with someone you know is slowly dying. 

No surprises that I kept thinking about my mother who died almost two years ago.  She was diagnosed with a mass in her brain on November 5th, 2010.  She had brain cancer that took over so quickly that she was gone 5 weeks after her diagnosis.  We did not have the time that Will had with his mother to remember moments, talk about topics that you need closure on or even discuss a book.  She couldn't think clearly.  Every day was a new fire drill. 

I envy that Will was able to spend that time with his Mom as she wound down her life.  Although way too soon for her and him but they could come to terms with it. 

It is really a beautiful book and one that is absolutely worth reading. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Marjan Ghara

    Sorry to hear of your loss, Joanne and the way it happened. I lost my mother three months ago, after a two year battle with terminal cancer. Those two years, were a blessing for sure, but we were mourning all along knowing what is coming. It’s never normal after a terminal diagnosis. And even though we thought we were prepared and had time to talk things over. her loss is still devastating. I suspect there is no good way to loose one’s mother. 🙁

    1. Gotham Gal

      there is absolutely no good way to lose your mother

  2. Tyrone Rubin

    Hiya, almost at the half way mark and loving it.

  3. Deirdre

    I am so glad to know about this book.In our culture, at least, we are not “good” at talking about end-of-life, death, grief or loss. How lovely that Will could share his and his mom’s gift with us. Thank you for posting about this. I will read it.

  4. AMT Editorial Staff

    Did a search to see if you had read this book. Just finished and loved it and was planning on recommending it to you. First book in a long while that I can easily recommend without caveats. Now reading “The Interestings”…

    1. Gotham Gal

      I liked the Interestings. It was kind of trite but it stuck with me.

      1. AMT Editorial Staff

        2/3 done with Interestings AND I can’t lose your word “trite.” If a book review could be done in 1 word…you’ve nailed it. ALSO. One of the books mentioned in “The End of Your Life Book Club” is Herman Wouk’s Marjorie Morningstar. Since I finished the former, I’ve seed 2 references to that particular Wouk book. A sign? I just ordered it. Here is the WSJ article — calling it “neglected.”