January 23, 2015
"Don’t make the same mistakes my parents did"
Bethany Mandel offers Eight Parenting Lessons I Learned From My Parents’ Early Deaths
Don’t make the same mistakes my parents did. Prepare for death, so if it happens, your children will be as secure as possible.
1. Buy life insurance
2. Make a Will and Arrange Guardians for Your Kids
3. Write Down Your Recipes - The tastes of your childhood can disappear with your parents.
4. Print Photos and Make Albums
5. Write Down Family Stories
6. Give the Gift of Genealogy and Family History - Family history is important to me, probably because I have so little family left.
7. Compile Immediate Family Medical Histories
8. Make Memories, Not Money, the Priority
January 17, 2015
'Yes, I'm dying, but tell me your good news, do my ironing without being asked and don't treat me like a saint'
Kate Gross, a mother-of-two, died at 36 from colon cancer. Yet at that young age, she had already been a private secretary for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, founded a charity and was awarded OBE for her services to the public and charitable sectors.
But what caught my eye was Yes, I'm dying, but tell me your good news, do my ironing without being asked and don't treat me like a saint':
That's from her newly posthumously published book, Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You (About This Wonderful Life)
Written for those she loves, it is not a conventional cancer memoir; nor is it filled with medical jargon or misery.Instead, it is Kate’s personal way of making sense of the final chapter of her life. Her book discusses the wonder to be found every day, what it means to die before your time, and how to fill life with hope and joy even in the face of tragedy. From the published excerpt:
…..Now, I look back on the days we’ve had following Bad News, and I can remember almost every instant. What I did. What I said to whom.
The words that kept going round in my head: Not Yet, Not Yet.
How the image I had in my head of death was of me in the back of a black taxi, leaving an awesome party before the end, just when everyone else was starting to have real fun. …..
When I tell you what happened next, remember that I am not unusually unfeeling, but am basically wired for happiness. The sadness left me. Or perhaps it is fairer to say it settled in; it became part of my mental furniture rather than a monster which inhabited my mind against my will.
The acute period of misery was short-lived — days or weeks. I think this was because we humans cannot exist in a state of heightened emotion for long. We are programmed to normalise, even after the worst news imaginable…..
There is a third state, between crisis and endurance: uncertainty….
I have started kneeling down in forest glades and old, cold churches and asking for help.
The God I find there — the one who helps me cling on to a still, small voice of calm — is the God of churches at smokefall, a God who swims in cold seas, inhabits high mountains and wild places.
Being outside, among nature, among all of this, is the one unfailing way I have found to stop my Achilles’ heel from crippling me.
I can weep on anyone, but no one gets to weep on me. (Of course you’re sad that I’m dying, but I just don’t need to hear you snuffle snottily that you’re so devastated that I’m going to leave my children motherless. Hold it together, go cry on someone else.) Don’t assume that you should crowd towards the centre of the spiral. Leave us space to breathe. ….
You can tell me I look great, even if I don’t. But please don’t treat me as if I’m a dying saint who has granted you an audience in her final hours. Don’t hold our moments together in some precious reverence. Don’t make me feel as if this is the last time we will meet.
December 30, 2014
"Mummified room" of WWI Soldier
His torn military jacket still hangs by his desk and his shoes are still tucked neatly by his bed — relics of a life lost long ago. In the small village of Bélâbre in central France sits the room of Hubert Rochereau, untouched for nearly a century as a memorial to the fallen solider, who died during World War I. It’s “an unforgettable journey back in time,” reported la Noveulle Republique, which described it as a “mummified room.”
Dragoons officer Rochereau died at age 22 inside an English field ambulance after a battle in Belgium on April 26, 1918. According to the Guardian, the officer’s parents decided to keep his room exactly as he left it — even after selling the house under the poignant, if legally unenforceable condition the room should not be changed for 500 years.