Authors talk about death and illness

Posted on 7 June 2010. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , , |

I was struggling to find something to write about tonight until I had a conversation with my friend, Mark, who mentioned Sara Douglass had been written up in The Sunday Times in Perth. You might remember Mark, he wrote about the tenth anniversary of Crusader. You can find the pdf of the article here.

Douglass is a very vocal person and brought up a wonderful topic for discussion. Basically, she’s dying of cancer and has been virtually deserted by so many people who do not know or understand how to deal with really bad ill health. They do not understand the pain levels and certainly do not understand the exhaustion levels. Douglas wrote about this on her blog and as at this time there are 81 comments. It is a very big topic and one I can totally relate to, not that I have cancer or any kind of illness such as that but I have had my share of health challenges and do have a number of allergies and intolerances. Whenever I’ve spoken of my health challenges over the years I’ve always felt that people don’t want to know the details and so I’ve picked up the habit of trying to only talk about them when it’s necessary, such as when ordering food. I can’t begin to understand how much harder it must be for someone like Douglass who needs to not only stop talking about it but also comfort those around her who are not sick.

I read a related article a while ago by Lionel Shriver who not only has her own health challenges but spent a lot of print time saying mea culpa. Her very good friend was dying and she kept on putting off contacting her as she couldn’t deal with her friend denying her impending death. I read that and thought, mea culpa I am guilty of the same thing. I do try, if I know someone is nearing death, to actually go and see them to make my goodbyes, but I have never said to them ‘what can I do for you?’ I have never asked them if there was anything I could do to make things easier for them and I rarely visit them before they get to that point.

In her blog Douglass apologises for being inconvenient and I have this to say to her. ‘Sara Douglas, I would love you to continue to be inconvenient, you have provoked much discussion and that is a healthy part of this society. You are a wonderful person and you have brought a very large problem to our notice, it is similar to the one I have been pondering since reading Lionel Shriver’s article and you have voiced everything I’ve been thinking and so much more. Not only that you have voiced it in much better language than I ever could. For that, I thank you.’

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Journey From Venice – Ruth Cracknell

Posted on 16 May 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Ruth Cracknell was born 6th July 1925 and died on 13th May 2002. She was a wonderful actress being most noted for playing Mrs Beare in Mother and Son. I remember as being a wonderful Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Ernest.

I’ve always been fascinated by her. I recall seeing her interviewed and wished I could have met her to ask her more questions, sadly that interview was played just after her death. The next best thing is to read her books. She has written several memoirs and I was lucky to get hold of a copy of Journey From Venice. This memoir is the story of her husband’s illness in Venice and subsequent death in Sydney.

The writing is compelling and honest. I feel as if I was there with her, I feel the streets of Venice, I feel the delight she feels at being there, but most of all I feel her emotion.  I cried buckets over those last few days in Venice and the evacuation of Eric (her husband) to Sydney. I’ve been crying more buckets of tears while reading the end of Eric’s life.  The illness was so totally devastating to Ruth, but she managed to pull herself together and keep going just for him.  She talks about times when she could just walk away and not come back, to stop herself doing that she doesn’t leave the room.  I love the way a person can be that devoted to someone else that they make themselves stay even though it hurts so much.

When Eric finally does die we get to see the whole process. With every other book I’ve read where someone dies we don’t get to see the emotions that go through the author when they have to call their children in and when their loved one finally does die, but Ruth has her heart totally on her sleeve and we see every single bit.  It must have hurt her again to write it down for us, but she did and in such a way that I believe it should remain a classic for all time.

I seriously loved this book.  I recommend it but I also recommend you have a box of tissues with you while reading.

Currently for sale on the Suz’s Space website.

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