In this lyrical adieu to her mother, renowned Catholic essayist, poet, and professor Angela O‰ÛªDonnell explores how the mundane tasks of caregiving during her mother‰Ûªs final days‰ÛÓbathing, feeding, taking her for a walk in her wheelchair‰ÛÓbecame rituals or ordinary sacraments that revealed traces of the divine. With Joan Didion‰Ûªs grasp of grief, the spiritual playfulness of Mary Karr, and the poetic agility of Kathleen Norris, Angela Alaimo O‰ÛªDonnell narrates the events that followed her mother‰Ûªs fall and the broken hip that led to surgery. As O‰ÛªDonnell and her sisters cared for their mother‰Ûªs failing body during the last days of her life, they unconsciously observed rituals that began to take on a deeper importance.
Bathing her each morning was a kind of baptism, the nightly feeding of pie took on a Eucharistic significance, trimming and polishing nails became a kind of anointing. Beyond the seven there are the myriad sacraments they made up: the sacrament of community via cell phone, the sacrament of wheelchair pilgrimage around the nursing home, and the sacrament of humor and laughter. Mortal Blessings: A Sacramental Farewell is a deeply human portrait of loss balanced by the surprising grace found in letting go; it will resonate with any spiritual reader but especially caregivers and those currently in grief.
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O‰ÛªDonnell is well known for her regular contributions to America and Christian Century, and as an occasional contributor to Commonweal. Her poems have been published in twenty different magazines and journals.
A perfect gift for caregivers and those grieving.
O‰ÛªDonnell gives poetry readings and lectures and teaches poetry writing workshops throughout the United States.