In this lyrical adieu to her mother, renowned Catholic essayist, poet, and professor Angela O'Donnell explores how the mundane tasks of caregiving during her mother's final days--bathing, feeding, taking her for a walk in her wheelchair--became rituals or ordinary sacraments that revealed traces of the divine.
With Joan Didion's grasp of grief, the spiritual playfulness of Mary Karr, and the poetic agility of Kathleen Norris, Angela Alaimo O'Donnell narrates the events that followed her mother's fall and the broken hip that led to surgery. As O'Donnell and her sisters cared for their mother's 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. This deeply human portrait of loss is balanced by the surprising grace found in letting go; it will resonate with any spiritual reader but especially caregivers and those currently in grief.
|Publisher:||Ave Maria Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||5 MB|
About the Author
O’Donnell’s poems have appeared in many journals, including America, Christian Century, Christianity and Literature, First Things, Hawaii Pacific Review, Mezzo Cammin, Pedestal Magazine, Post Road, Potomac Review, Relief, RUNES, String Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Wisconsin, Vineyards, Windhover, and Xavier Review, and in a variety of anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature. She has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Web prizes, and was a finalist for the Foley Poetry Award, the Elixir First Book Award, and the Mulberry Poets & Writers Award.
O’Donnell also writes essays that engage literature and art in the context of the Catholic intellectual tradition. Her essays and reviews have appeared in such journals as America, Commonweal, and Christianity and Literature, and have been included in a variety of collections and anthologies. O’Donnell is a columnist for America and contributes columns and blog essays devoted to books and culture.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Sacrament of Speech 1
Chapter 2 The Sacrament of Distance 21
Chapter 3 The Sacrament of Beauty 39
Chapter 4 The Sacrament of Humor 67
Chapter 5 Sacraments of the Cell Phone and the Wheelchair 81
Chapter 6 The Sacrament of Witness 93
Chapter 7 The Sacrament of Honor 109
Chapter 8 The Sacrament of Memory 123