I was given a copy of The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (http://amzn.to/2ljM7LR) last summer. I hadn’t heard of Mr. Schwalbe or his mother and wasn’t sure about reading about death. But I was out of interesting books to read when I ran across it in a pile, so I started reading it.
As I read it, I fell in love with how Mary Ann Schwalbe raised her three children and work successfully in many different high profile roles. She the kind of life I would love to be and gave back to society and across the world. One of her pet projects was seeing a library was built in Afghanistan. She was diagnosed with panarctic cancer in 2007, I think it was, so her middle son, Will, and she decided to share what she taught him most: share their love of reading.
In the two or three years she had left, they chose books to read together and they discussed them during her chemo treatments. Many of the books they discussed, I had not heard of, but am interested in finding so I can read them, too. A few of them, I had read, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It interesting to read they enjoyed that book, whereas I was less taken with it.
All through The End of Your Life Book Club, I found myself reflecting on my own life, and how it would be so different if I had believed in myself more and not allowed others who discouraged me. If I had not listened to my mom who said others knew more than me.
One of my goals in my youth was to be able to give back to others. To set up funds for groups to aid in organizations, like helping with literacy, and creative endeavors. Mary Ann Schwalbe could help with many originations. She left a legacy behind and many people benefited from her social fundraising and love of seeing others benefit from books and libraries. Of course, she had the financial ability as well as the social connections to assist with her raising the money.
Mrs. Schwalbe did not look back with regret. Nor did she allow the times she was raised in prevent her from living life to the fullest. The more you give to others, the more others will give back to you.
As I read this book, I thought back to the deaths of my own parents, wishing I could have been there and be able to forgive as well as have those last few years or days with them, with a clear understanding of what they had given me and what the really wanted me to learn. So much time I lived in anger and resentment that they did not allow me to be the person I wanted to be. So often, I felt judged, strangled and like I could not move. As I look back, perhaps I was also strangling myself by keeping my own anger and resentment in front of me, living the past instead of learning to let go, forgive and create a new life for me. I kept my mom’s fear as my own fear, instead of recognizing it was her fear and I did not have own it.
It is true, not all of us are blessed with the ability to travel the world and help in refugee camps, like Mary Ann Schwalbe, but we can find local areas to volunteer at that can make a difference.
Let go. Share your love of books with others. Share your life with your parents, if you still have them. Open your heart to your spouse and your children. Give your favorite books to your children and grandchildren. Encourage all to read and discuss them. Give back to others any way that you can.