Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book: "Losing Mum and Pup" by Christopher Buckley*****

For Fathers Day our son gave me a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble and when I saw this book there,just out in paperback, I knew I had to get it. This is Christopher Buckley's loving, bittersweet memoir of losing both of his "larger than life" parents in one year. His mother was a New York City socialite and his father was Bill Buckley (William F. Buckley Jr) the author, founder of National Review Magazine, lecturer, columnist, conservative commentator , TV host of "Firing Line" and a hero of mine. I have had a poster and now a picture of him hanging on a wall in my home for the last 41 years. I have read most of his books and met him many years ago when he gave a lecture at Oregon State University. A small group of us even had a private dinner with him before the speech. I had read an excerpt of this book online from the New York Times some time ago and was afraid this would be another "Mommy Dearest" type of biography showing my hero with feet of clay. However, this is not the case. The book covers the period when both of his parents became ill thorough their deaths and memorial services. A period of just over a year. There are many flash backs to their earlier life. It is always sad to watch your parents deteriorate at the end. The trips to the hospital..... their helplessness...... the end..... the funeral home..... the service..... the finalizing of their financial affairs and disposing of their personal belonging.

The book has humor, and is touching. Christopher has inherited his parents wit and while his parents were not perfect, and he had his difficulties with them, the love was always there.

Aging baby boomers will find comfort in this book in dealing with the mortality of their parents. No mater how famous, important or rich people are, the end can be very hard on them and their family in dealing with the indignities of losing control over their body as it marches toward death.

Christopher writes that in losing both parents "this story has a larger-than-personal dimension, it is an account of becoming an orphan." and the realisation that "your next!"

Near the end of the book he writes:

Orphanhood proceeds........ It comes in waves, my fellow orphans will probably inform you. One moment you're doing fine, living your life..... then in the next, boom, there is is. It has many ways of presenting...Sometimes it comes in the form of a black hole inside you, sucking the rest of you into it; other times it's a sense of disconnection, as if you had been holding your mother's hand in a crowd and suddenly she let go, and now here you are, not alone, exactly, but it feels alone."


My favorite antidote from the book is that Bill Buckley set up a Google "news alert" for his name so he received an email from Google with links to any news story about him and he received a lot !

Second favorite, up till his death he used "Wordstar" for his computer word processing program on which he wrote his books including the one on Reagan he was working on when he died. For you young people it was a software program from the mid 1980's.